Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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sallied out upon the Kolapoor troops sent against their


fort, and drove them off with loss. Alarm now spread,
and fears were expressed for Eutnagiry, Yingorla, and
even for Belgaum itself ; at which last place sudden and
novel precautions were taken, sufficient to indicate alarm
and to provoke attack. "When shall we gain experience
and learn to be always on the alert ? — In the words of
Washington, " to organize all our resources, and to put
them in a state of preparation for prompt action"
# # # «-^Q endeavour by unanimity, vigilance, and
exertion, under the blessing of Providence, to hold the
scales of our destiny in our own hands." Eeinforce-
ments were now ordered from various quarters towards
the disturbed districts ; and on the 8th October, General
Delamotte, by order of the Bombay Government, as-
sumed command of the troops in the field. On the
11th, four battering guns reached Samungurh, and were
placed in position, and by the evening of the next day a
practicable breach was effected. When the guns arrived,
Mr. Eeeves, the commissioner, allowed the garrison the
opportunity of a parley to state their grievances ; but
he soon found that the Gurhkurees only desired to gain
time, in expectation of support from Kolapoor, where,
in the interim, the Sebundees, encouraged by our su-
pineness, had risen in open revolt, and seized and
confined the minister Dajee Pundit ; and where, in fact,
their leader, Babajee Thirakar, had assumed the govern-
ment. Affairs were, therefore, allowed to take their
course, and shortly before daylight on the morning of
the 13th, the place was stormed and carried with little
opposition. During the day, Mr. Eeeves and Colonel
Outram accompanied a wing of the 5th Madras Cavalry
under command of Captain Graham, and cut up a large
body of malcontents who had collected in the neigh-
bourhood with a view of supporting the garrison.
Colonel Outram had joined General Delamotte's camp


the day before tlie storm, in a political capacity, and
henceforward, wherever employed, threw into all pro-
ceedings that moderation, energy, and ability, which
have everywhere so strongly marked his career.

To save farther bloodshed, the joint- commissioners,
Mr. Reeves and Colonel Outram, now offered, with cer-
tain exceptions, an amnesty to all who wonld imme-
diately return to their allegiance. Few,, if any, ac-
cepted the terms ; a strong presumptive proof that the
unfortunate men had real grievances. The day after
the capture of Samungurh, Colonel Outram, with
Colonel Wallace and 500 men of his brigade, proceeded
to Kaghal, one march from Kolapoor, with the view of
procuring the release of the minister who was im-
prisoned in the fort of Panalla, as well as of supporting
the Eaja and well-affected cliiefs against the disorderly
troops and their disloyal leaders. The movements of
the head-quarters under Greneral Delamotte were more
dilatory and less decided. He did not leave Samungurh
until the 12th October, and then hesitated a long time
whether to move on Kolapoor or Bhoordurgurh, the
garrison of which last place had, on the 10th October,
plundered the British pergunnah of Chickooree, and
robbed the local treasury. Whatever was to be done
should have been done quickly ; expedition was every-
thing ; and had a second blow, such as that at Samun-
gurh, been speedily struck, in any direction, the pro-
bability is, that the insurrection would have been sub-

There seems at this time to have been disunion in the
counsels of the authorities ; but their exact nature has
not transpired. Government, evidently, was very ill-
informed as to the nature of the outbreak, or the means
most likely to quell it. Like most other insurrections,
it had in the first instance been mismanaged and trifled


with ; its dangers were then exaggerated ; troops were
poured into the country under hap-hazard commanders,
and it was only at the last stage of proceedings that
efficient means of tranquillization were adopted. On
the 24th October, after much negotiation, and not until
Colonel Wallace's detachment had been strengthened,
Dajee Pundit was released, and the young Eaja of Kola-
poor, with his aunt and mother and the majority of his
chiefs, left the city and joined the British camp. The
movement had been strongly opposed by the Kolapoor
troops, about 500 of whom under Babajee Thirakar,
finding their wishes defeated, absconded and joined the
Bhoordurgurh malcontents. Babajee may be regarded
as the leader of the rebellion. He had imprisoned the
minister, usurped the government, and instigated the
raid on Chickooree. He and certain other principals
were, therefore, excepted in an offer of amnesty, which
was held out to such as should return to their alle-
giance ; but, strange to say, when General Delamotte
did at least appear before Bhoordurgurh, with every
means of speedily capturing the place, he admitted the
garrison to a surrender; and actually allowed himself,
on the evening of the 10th, to be detained for several
hours at one gate, while Babajee Thirakar with his
party escaped from another. Thus was the flame
spread, rather than extinguished; for Babajee imme-
diately moved to the still stronger fortress of Panalla,
where the Kolapoorians imagined that, as in olden time,
a long, if not permanent, stand could be made against
all comers.

On the 25th November, General Delamotte appeared
before Panalla, where Colonel Ovans, the Eesident at
Satara, was now imprisoned. This officer, who had
lately been appointed special commissioner in the
Southern Mahratta country, to the supercession of both


Mr. Eeeves and Colonel Outram, had been waylaid on
the 17th November, while incautiously travelling dak
with a very slight escort from Satara to Kolapoor, and
carried prisoner to Panalla. We pretend not to know
the reason of Colonel Ovans' appointment, but after
carefully comparing all we have heard on the subject, it
is our belief that the Bombay Grovernment, already in
no good humour at the long continuance of hostilities,
were at this time irritated by Colonel Outram' s refusing
to accept the permanent charge of the Kolapoor country,
and, therefore, at once accepted the resignation, which
he volunteered only on the expiration of hostilities.
This must have been the real motive that actuated, per-
haps unwittingly, the authorities, though they may
have likewise disapproved of some particular measures
he had pursued. We see at least no other mode of ac-
counting for the act. The rumours and assertions cir-
culated by a portion of the Press at the time must have
been erroneous regarding the man who was selected to
go to Kolapoor when affairs looked Uach, was offered the
permanent civil management when they looked blacker ;
was then employed as a military commander in putting
an end to the war ; and has since the termination of
hostilities been nominated to the charge of the political
and military relations at Satara.

Whatever may have been the cause of Colonel Ovans'
deputation, his career was, thus summarily, cut short,
and the political management in the field remained
in the hands of Mr. Eeeves and Colonel Outram.
Strenuous endeavours were made by the commissioners
to effect the release of Colonel Ovans, whom the mal-
contents vainly tried to make the means of ensuring
their own safety. All their overtures were, however,
disregarded ; they were desired to release their prisoner
and surrender at discretion, or stand the consequences.



They did release him, hoping thereby to obtain terms
of surrender, but they soon discovered their error.

On the 27th the Pettah was captured; and on the
morning of the 1st December the batteries opened.
The same afternoon the breach, being reported practi-
cable, was stormed and carried in gallant style. Some
of the garrison endeavoured to escape into the adjoining
fort of Pawungurh, but were so closely followed by the
British troops, that this second fortress fell into our
hands the same day. Babajee Thirakar and some other
ringleaders fell in the storm, and many prisoners were
captured by the parties of troops judiciously placed in
the plain around.

On the 5th December, Colonel Wallace with a light
force proceeded against Eangna, seventy miles distant.
He reached it on the 9th, the same day carried the
Pettah, and the following night placed two guns and
two mortars in position : their play, during the next
day, caused the enemy after dark to evacuate the fort,
and fly into the Sawunt-waree jungles. The principal
fortresses of Kolapoor having thus fallen, their Gurh-
kurees being slain, imprisoned, or dispersed, and the
country being full of British troops, there was now a
temporary lull ; but it soon appeared that the theatre,
only, of hostilities had changed, and that the war itself
was as far as ever from a conclusion. Two thousand of
the Waree people, under Phoond Sawunt, and Anna
Sahib, the son of the Dessaee, who were at this time
devastating the Concan and stopping the roads, were
joined by the fugitive Kolapoorians. From the nature
of the country the military operations now became more
difficult. Wherever an enemy can be approached, there
is little cause for alarm. The strongest fortress or best-
intrenched position, if relied on, renders the occupiers
the more certain prey. It is but a question of time ;


the result is certain. In a rocky, jungle country, how-
ever, abounding in deep, damp ravines, and in forest-
covered hills and dells, and occupied by an acclimated
people, the case is very different. In all such miasmatic
localities, as long as malcontents are satisfied to fly to-
day, to starve to-morrow, and altogether to live or die
as the beasts around them, they may long baffle the
operations of regular troops under ordinary comman-
ders. And thus it was that the Sawunt-waree people
acted; and thereby created, even beyond their own
immediate limits, more alarm than their wretched
means should have been permitted to do; but the fact
is, that our regulars are as little adapted for jungle
fighting as were Aurungzebe's heavy Northmen to cope
on their own ground, with Sivajee's light Mawulees and

Troops employed in mountain and jungle warfare
require something more than mere bull- dog bravery.
Coolness, tact, activity, and a general acquaintance, at
least, with similar localities are as necessary in the leader,
as is some adaptation of his men to the enterprize.
Soldiers that will fearlessly mount a breach, silently
stand in array to be mown down by artillery, or un-
flinchingly hold their ranks to repel repeated charges
of cavalry, will falter under a dropping fire from unseen
foes. Men must be familiar with rock, ravine, and
jungle, to fight well among them. It is curious how ill
we generally make our selections from our ample and
varied resources — employing grenadiers as bush-rangers,
and keeping riflemen for garrison duty — ^pushing into
the front of battle, men who are fit only for the in-
valids, and keeping the young and active soldiers of
every rank comparatively in the background. We ge-
nerally get so weU out of our scrapes that the waste

p 2


of blood and treasure is too little considered ; and few
lessons are gained from past experience.

Fortunately for Government, the man tliey wanted
was at hand. Colonel Outram, who was now, about the
end of December, at Bombay, with the intention of pro-
ceeding to Europe, at once forgot past neglect and past
injuries, and came forward to rescue the Grovernment
from their difficulties. He volunteered to return to the
seat of war, and there organize and lead a light corps.
Nobly did he fulfil the large expectations that were now
centred in him. Within a fortnight he was again in
the field, the soul of all active measures ; his very ad-
vanced guard driving before them the half- armed rabble
that had kept three brigades at bay.

Never was the magic power of one man's presence
more striking, than on Outram' s return to the seat of
war. It might seem invidious were we to dwell on
the panic that then prevailed at Yingorla and Waree,
but the slightest glance at the proceedings in those
quarters will show that the insurgents had inspired a
ridiculously-formidable idea of their own importance.
All communications had long been cut off; the posts
were brought d?/ long sea, from Malwan to Vingorla, and
many of the inhabitants of this latter place nightly
took refuge in boats in the harbour. The troops were
harassed with patrolling duty, yet the neighbourhood
was rife with murders and robberies, the perpetrators of
which sent insulting messages to the authorities. On
one occasion a religious meeting was dispersed by a wag
suddenly calling out that the enemy were upon them.
Vingorla, be it remembered, stands in an open country.

At Waree, matters were, if possible, still worse ; there
the troops remained as in blockade, not a soul venturing
beyond the lines. All outposts were called in and the


malcontents permitted to consider themselves masters of
the field. When the garrison was reinforced hy the
arrival of the 10th and a part of the Bombay Native
Infantry, the authorities determined to occupy the gorge
of the valley of Seevapoor, in which lay the villages of
the insurgent Phoond Sawant, and thus cut ofi* this
focus of rebellion from the less- disturbed districts. The
scheme was a good one, but failed from the manner in
which its execution was attempted. A detachment of
two hundred sepoys set out ; they were sniped at from
the jungle and one man was wounded, when, instead of
closing with the enemy, they took post in a sort of en-
closure, and were soon beset by increased numbers. A
reinforcement of two hundred men joined them, but the
combined force, after losing twenty killed and wounded,
retreated to Waree. This success, of course, increased
the confidence of the insurgents, whose insolence was
not restrained even by the arrival soon after of Her
Majesty's 2nd Eegiment. They gave out that the}^ were
tired of thrashing sepoys and wished to try the metal of
the " LamhsT They soon obtained an opportunity of
proving their metal, but the sight of that tine corps was
too much for their nerves. The Europeans were then
kept idle, first at Waree, then at Dukhun-waree, and
full scope was given to the activity of the enemy.

At this juncture, Outram landed at Yingorla, where,
picking up two or three excellent ofiicers, he pushed on
to Waree, and thence towards Seevapoor. From this
date, the 14th January, matters took a turn; hitherto
the three brigades had been playing bo-peep with the
enemy, and from the tops of the Ghats, examining
through telescopes the stockades below, which the com-
manders did not think it prudent to attack. But now,
at length, a decided movement was announced for
hemming in the rebels in the valley of Seevapoor.


Twelve hundred men were placed under Outram, with
orders to beat up the low ground from Waree towards
the forts of Munohur and Munsuntosh ; Colonel Car-
ruthers, with a brigade, was to occupy the Seevapoor
valley on the other side of the ridge on which those
forts are situated ; while Colonel Wallace was, on a given
day, to descend the Grhats, and it was reckoned that his
troops, dove-tailing with those under the immediate
command of General Delamotte, would complete the en-
circlement of the rebels. This is not the time or place
for commenting on Colonel Wallace's descent of the
Elephant Rock, and premature attack on the open
village of Seevapoor. That officer probably thought
that he acted for the best, but we doubt whether dis-
obedience to orders can ever be so viewed. Without
any disparagement of his personal courage, we cannot
help thinking that Colonel Wallace manifested a very
contradictory estimate of the enemy's strength. If
they had been as formidable as he considered them,
then his descent of the rock, exposed to such a foe, was
absolute infatuation. Nothing but their weakness and
cowardice could justify the risk. But if the foe was so
contemptible, he could have easily taken the route he
ivas desired, driven them from stockade to stockade, at
the time ordered, and thus, completing the chain of
operation, have probably ensured the apprehension of
every individual rebel chief. Much have the merits of
Colonel Wallace's case been debated, but we cannot
perceive how he could have expected to escape a court-
martial, though he may have reckoned on ensuring an
honourable acquittal, from the nature of his offence.
There seems, however, to us, no more resemblance be-
tween his disobedience at the Elephant Eock and Nel-
son's at Copenhagen, than there is between the fame of
the two offenders. Judgment having been already


pronounced on Colonel Wallace by a military tribunal,
we should have avoided referring to his case, could our
narrative have been otherwise rendered intelligible.

To return to Colonel Outram. No communication
was practicable between the troops above and below the
Ghats, and he was left with his small band to his own
resources, without definite orders, and with very scanty
supplies, to carry out the most difficult operation of the
campaign. Merrily and confidently he advanced through
the wild sylvan scenes never before trod by European
foot. The ears of his people were now daily saluted by
the echo of the artillery on the overhanging Q-hats ;
sounds which could only be supposed to indicate " the
tug of war" above, and loss of ribbons and laurels to
those below. But such fears were soon relieved by
finding that the firing was only Colonel Wallace's. long
practice with extra charges from the summit of the
Elephant Hock at the village Seevapoor, some three
miles distant in the Concan below.

Each day Outram found points of his route stockaded
by the enemy, but they never made a stand, the ad-
vanced guard and skirmishers being generally sufficient
to disperse the wretched rabble. At length, on the 20th
of January a combined movement was ordered upon
the high peak to the west of Munsuntosh. The main
attack was to be made by Colonel Carruthers, who,
supported by a portion of Colonel Wallace's brigade,
was to carry some stockades in his front, and then move
up the Dukhun-waree or Sevapoor side of the ridge,
while Colonel Outram was to make a diversion from
the Shirsarjee or Grotia valley. This last detachment
performed their part ; but, on reaching the summit of
the peak, from which an extensive view was commanded,
no sign appeared of either brigade. They saw the
stockades which Colonel Carruthers was to have attacked


but which being now taken in flank were abandoned,
the enemy flying to Mnnsuntosh, within eight hundred
yards of which fort Outram established a post. Colonel
Carruthers' brigade had been prevented by the nature
of the country from taking their full share in the ope-
rations of the day. The next morning another com-
bined movement was made on the village of Grotia,
immediately below the forts ; again the nature of the
country favoured Outram, the advanced guard of whose
detachment captured the village with all its stockades,
though very strongly situated.

From these brief details we may infer how easily the
war might have been terminated, months sooner, by
more decided measures. The enemy had only to be
reached, to be routed. The troops, both Bombay and
Madras, were ready for their work, but a spirit of undue
caution and delay prevailed at head-quarters.

We cannot understand how it happened, but Colonel
Outram was now left, unsupported, to carry on opera-
tions against Munsuntosh. One of those accidents
which no human foresight can obviate, frustrated his
attempt to gain that fortress by a coup de main. He
carried three stockades, below the fort, attempted to
blow open a gate, failed, and was driven back with con-
siderable loss. He held his ground, however, high upon
the ridge, retained possession of the stockades, and was
on the eve of again storming the fortress when the
enemy evacuated not only Munsuntosh, but the adjoin-
ing fort of Munohur. Outram had skilfully thrown
out parties, to command the debouches from the south
and south-west faces of the forts, leaving the remaining
portions of the cordon to be filled up by the brigades.
Colonel "Wallace, however, failed on his part, and thus
suffered the rebel chiefs, who had all been engaged, to
escape over the Sisadrug ridge, close to one of his posts,

outram's operations. 217

into the Goa territory. Outram followed hard upon
their track, had several skirmishes, took many prisoners,
and on one occasion, nearly captured the chiefs. Again
he scoured the wild country beneath the Grhats, encou-
raging the loyal, and beating up the disaffected villages.
The nature and value of his services during the opera-
tions we have glanced at, are not to be measured by
the actual opposition experienced or loss sustained, but
by the estimate formed by other commanders of the
obstacles and enemy to be encountered, and by the fact
that the rapid and skilful movements of his small
detachment, terminated, in a few days, an organized
opposition which had for six weeks kept at bay three
brigades, differently handled. The total silence of
Government, and the non-publication of any opinion
regarding the Sawunt-waree operations, might, at first
sight, lead to the inference that Outram's management
gave as little satisfaction as did that of his fellow com-
manders. But, the promotion since bestowed on him,
amply proves that Government took the same view of
his conduct throughout the campaign as did General
Delamotte, Colonels Brough. and Wallace, and indeed
all his comrades. Outram's is an almost isolated
instance of a man receiving not only civil promotion
but brevet rank, without his good fortune exciting
jealousy ; a remarkable exception, only to be explained
by his rare qualities as a soldier, and his conciliatory
demeanour as a man.

The tone of our remarks upon Colonel Outram may
savour of partial panegyric, to those of our readers who
have not followed out his career as we have done. No
personal feelings however, can mingle in our praise of a
man whom we have never seen, and whom we know
only by his public acts. Those who have watched his
course, will probably concur in our eulogiums ; indeed,


any unprejudiced man, reading the despatches published
during the war, the proceedings of Colonel Wallace's
court-martial, and the discussions which they elicited
at the three Presidencies, must acknowledge that every
affair in which Outram had a voice, was carried out
with an energy and promptitude, very unlike the pro-
crastinating indecision perceptible elsewhere. He ar-
rived at Samungurh — the fortress was carried forthwith ;
and (what so rarely happens in Indian operations) the
success was immediately followed up, by despatching
Captain Grraham to disperse the enemy's covering force ;
a work which that officer ably accomplished. Again, in
the despatch published by the Bombay Government, we
see Outram mentioned as " the man who volunteered
his services, and was among the foremost who entered
the fort of Panalla." The reader has only to contrast
the whole conduct of his detachment, from the 16th of
January to the conclusion of hostilities, with any other
operations of the campaign, and he will bear us out in
the opinion that he was the soul of every decided
measure. :

If our narrative has kept to Colonel Outram' s de-
tachment it is for the simple reason that they appear
to have had all the fighting to themselves. No dis-
credit thereby attaches to the troops under the other
commanders, who were always ready for action, and
who, when opportunity offered, as at Samungurh and
Panalla, behaved with the accustomed gallantry of the
Madras and Bombay armies.

We must wind up this hasty, though perhaps prolix
sketch of Sawunt-waree affairs. By the capture of
Munohur and Munsuntosh the strength of the insur-
rection was broken. The strongholds of the rebels
were taken, their boldest leaders slain or captured, and
all others, to the number, as already stated, of forty, fled


for shelter to Groa. Outram was then again called on
to act the diplomatist. His parties still followed up

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 17 of 39)