Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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talism had been expended on it in Parliament, and by
the Press. In India also there was opposition to the
idea of restoring flogging to the list of military pe-
nalties ; and Sir James Lumley, the respected Adjutant-
General of the Bengal army, declared it not only un-
necessary, but highly dangerous.

Sir Henry Ilardinge calmly heard all that was to be
said on both sides ; and, having given tlie opposing ar-


guments the consideration of an experienced soldier,
decided upon repealing Lord Wm. Bentinck's abolition.
In a masterly record of his own views, he exposed the
error of the prevailing system, miscalled humane, by ex-
hibiting the statistics of its convictions and punish-
ments ; and then, separating ^oyy my from dismissal, and
showing that one was not a necessary consequence of
the other, he stripped the bugbear of half its ignominy,
and all its worldly ruin.

Let us not be mistaken. We are no more advocates
for flagellation than the softest-hearted of our readers,
but we know that the purposes of discipline, especially
in camp and on service, often require instant and sum-
mary punishment for offences not in themselves involv-
ing moral degradation ; and that, therefore, as one great
object of all panishment is, or should be, the prevention
of crime, it was not only justifiable, but absolutely ne-
cessary that the law should be altered and discipline
restored, by a return to a modified and closely- cite eked
system of corporal punishment. God forbid that any
right-minded man should advocate flogging, except as
the effectual substitute for the ineffectual punishments of
imprisonment and death ! Moreover, we would fence in
the penalty with every possible restriction, and never
inflict a lash more than the particular case required.
The purposes of discipline are as likely to be effected by
50 lashes as by 500, and in no case would we have them
inflicted except under the orders of the chief mihtary
authority on the spot. Prompt punishment is required
for mutiny and insubordination — crimes, which, unless
on the instant put down, soon convert obedient armies
into ruffianly mobs. Neglectful compliance with orders
soon engenders jeers and abuse, then blows, and lastly
bayonet thrusts or bullets. Twenty lashes within a few
hours of the offence may suppress the spirit, which, un-


checked, requires the infliction of death.* On the other
hand there is much detriment to the service, and no
possible good to any party, in marching men as prisoners,
as has been the case, from Affghanistan to the British
provinces, or from Saugor to Arcot and Madras.

Some such thoughts as these must have been passing
through the Governor- Grenerars mind, when he sum-
moned Lieut. -Col. Birch the able Judge Advocate
Greneral of the Bengal army, down from Simla to
Calcutta ; caused the whole of the Articles of War to be
revised; and, in the face of a still strong opposition,
and at a time when he was told that a dangerous feeling
of discontent was prevalent in the Native army, had the
new code quietly introduced. We can recollect that it
was not without some misgivings that the first case of
corporal punishment was enforced in our own neighbour-
hood; but neither then, nor since, have any murmurs
been heard against the law. The quiet and well-disposed
Native soldiers know that the punishment will never be
their fate ; and the dissolute and unruly have no voice
or discretion in the matter; indeed, it is merciful to
themselves to have a punishment which they dread.

We have said that the late Adjutant- Greneral was
strongly opposed to the re-introduction of flogging in
the Native army ; but we are happy to add that he lived
to correct his error, and acknowledge it. We have still

* Within the year 1847 there have for an eye" is the law of retributive
been fully fifty convictions of Euro- justice, and surely flogging is a more
pean soldiers for gross insubordina- suitable punishment for the soldier
tion. Almost all the offenders have who strikes his officer than transpor-
been either imprisoned or trans- tation which he desires. We are satis-
ported : three were shot, but only fied, that, if the first ten of the cul-
three or four men were flogged, prits above noticed had, each within
They received fifty lashes each, but twenty-four hours of his offence, re-
we are inclined to believe that their ceived fifty lashes, and then been im-
convictions were not generally known prisoned, on the silent system, with
when the crimes were committed hard labour for a year or so, the three
that entailed corporal punishment. executions as well as the expense

The law, or rather its practice, and loss of all the transportations

still requires amendment. "An eye would have been avoided. — H. M. L.


greater satisfaction in recording that the returns of the
army in the three Presidencies show that the punish-
ment is so rarely enforced, as to be almost a dead letter.

We have enlarged on this topic, because we consider
the restoration of corporal punishment as the boldest
act of Lord Hardinge's Indian career. He found more
than one regiment in mutiny, and a feeling prevalent
that a spark was all that was wanted to light a flame.
A large proportion of the Native army was on, or near
the frontier, subject to the temptations and seductions
of the rioting Sikh troops, whose emissaries were leav-
ing no means untried to spread defection in our ranks.
The Grovernor-Greneral had before his eyes the fate of
Sir John Craddock and Lord Wm. Bentinck, at Madras ;
and, little as was said when the event turned out hap-
pily and all went well, he must have foreseen as it were
already in type, and only waiting for the printer's ink,
the columns of invective and reprobation which would
have assailed him had a single file demurred upon a
punishment parade, much more if the new order had
caused general disaffection among the sepoys. An
Aliwal is trumpeted even to nausea; but the bold
spirit of legislation, the moral victory, whose loss would
have been revolution, passes by unnoticed in the calm
of its own success.

It was during the autumn of this year (1844) that the
little war of Kolapoor and Sawunt-waree took place.
"We have already (in a previous essay), pretty fully
detailed its rise, progress, and termination, and have
little to add to that account. The Grovernor- General is
understood to have urged on the Bombay Grovernment
prompt and energetic measures, nor did he disguise his
disapprobation of the dilatory proceedings of Greneral
Delamotte and his colleagues ; and though a member of
the Cabinet which had approved, or at least shielded, the


appropriation of Sindh, miglit well have been expected
to be prejudiced against the sturdy advocate of the
unfortunate Amirs, Sir Henry at once approved of the
nomination of Lieut. -Colonel Outram to the command
of a light field force ; and that able and gallant officer,
as we have already shown, justified the confidence re-
posed in him by bringing hostilities to a speedy close.*

The war concluded, able officers were nominated to
conduct the civil management of the lately- disturbed
tract, where — much in the manner recommended in the
preceding essay — the whole authority was left in the
hands of the British agents; in Kolapoor during the
minority of the Prince ; in Sawunt-waree apparently for
ever. All has since remained perfectly tranquil in that
quarter, mainly owing to the same means that have
more recently tranquillized the Punjab. The forts were
dismantled, or occupied for the Government : the here-
ditary militia honestly disposed of, paid up and dis-
charged; or such as had claims retained and usefully
employed in police and other duties. There is a favour-
ite and true saying in the East that without " siyasut "
there can be no " riyasut ;" or, to be intelligible at home
— that severity is inseparable from good government.
And on this principle the Governor-General acted in
the case before us. He insisted on the punishment of
the leaders of the insurrection ; but forgave all others.

Immersed in these high duties of a civil ruler;
patronizing literature, encouraging education, cheapen-
ing the poor man's food, drawing tight the bands of
military discipline, maintaining peace, and repudiating
aggression, — the charge has been brought against Lord
Hardinge that he descried not the cloud which was

* In reference to Colonel Outram*s that he was just the sort of fellow he
services on this occasion, we under- would wish to have in the field at the
stand Lord Hardinge to have said, head of a Light Brigade. — H. M. L.


rising over the North- West frontier ; that he permitted
the Sikh invasion to take him by surprise and thus
jeopardized the empire, and sacrificed many valuable
lives. Strange to say, the most forward of these ac-
cusers has been the Quarterly Review,^ the^' political
organ of his Lordship's party. We are prepared to
prove that the assertions which it contains are as
groundless as they are injurious to Lord Hardinge's
reputation; and because the explanation afterwards
offered by the Quarterli/'^ was tantamount to no expla-
nation at all.

The mail which first bore to England the news of
the Sikh invasion, carried, we believe, only a hasty and
exaggerated account of the battle of Mudki ; and in a
time of profound peace the country was aroused with
the intelligence that nearly 100,000 Sikhs f were en-
camped upon British territory and threatening a British
outpost. Public confidence and common sense fled at
the announcement ; and without reflecting that the be-
leagured post was held by the best general officer in the
Bengal army, at the head of 10,472 men; that this
force which had the advantage of holding a walled town
and a partly-intrenched cantonment was more than
double that which won the battle of Assaye, and four
times that which stemmed the whole torrent of Holkar's
army at Delhi ; \ and above all that those most qualified
to judge (Sir Hugh Grough, Sir John Littler, and
Brigadier Wheeler), were perfectly satisfied not only of
the safety of Ferozepore but also of Loodiana ; — without
giving a moment's consideration to any of these things,

* No. 155, June, 1846 ; and No. deemed certain victory, swelled the

157, December, 1846. invading force to at least 100,000. —

t AVe do not estimate the Sikh H.M. L.

Army which crossed the Sutlej at % Burn and Ochterlony had 2^

more than 60,000 ; but the crowds regiments and some trustworthy ir-

of armed plunderers, who flocked in regulars. Holkar mustered 70,000

the train of the camp to what they men !— ^H. M. L.


the Press assumed defeat, in the interval between the
two mails, and a portion of it yelled for the recall of an
" imbecile " Governor, and an " incapable " Commander-
in-Chief. Other mails arrived; and with them the
tidings of the glorious victories of Ferozeshah, Aliwal,
and Sobraon. And when Sir Eobert Peel, in Parlia-
ment, in that clear and convincing manner for which
his statements are remarkable, detailed the policy which
had been observed by the Governor-Greneral towards the
Lahore durbar — although the Eight Honourable Ba-
ronet, in avoiding exaggeration, very largely understated
the strength of the frontier posts at the time of the
Sikh irruption, — yet the House and the country gene-
rally, went with him when in concluding that part of
his speech he declared, — ''It is quite clear that my gallant
friend the Governor- General did take every precaution to
ensure the safety of the British dominions in India, in case
of sudden and unprovoked attack.'^

The Quarterly Beview undertook for "the incapable
Commander-in-Chief," the same friendly office which the
Premier had performed for "the imbecile Governor-
General:" and zealously did it execute the task. But
it was not content with eloquently advocating the claims
which that undaunted leader had upon his country's
admiration. In the warmth of biography it forgot
history ; and taking for its model those warlike medals
in which the erect figure of the victor is made to appear
gigantic by the corses prostrate at his feet, it elevated
the subject of its memoir by denying all merit, all saga-
city, all military forethought, to his friend and superior,
the Governor-General, beyond the bold-heartedness that
is common to every British soldier.

The words of the reviewer are as follows : — " If there
had been urgent arguments addressed to Lord Ellen-
borough in favour of a peaceful reign, the wish both of


the Directors and of the Cabinet on that head, was ex-
pressed with increased earnestness to Sir Henry Har-
dinge. It is necessary to state all this clearly, in order
that the true causes of our seeming unpreparedness to
encounter the danger of a Sikh invasion, when it came,
may be understood. Sir Henry entered upon the duties
of his office more anxious than perhaps any other
Governor-General had ever been before him to signalize
the entire term of his residence in India by the useful
labours of peace. At the same time he did not consider
himself hound either to censure or to retrace the steps which
his predecessor might have taken in an opposite direction.
He found that the attention of Lord Ellenborough had
been turned seriously towards the North- Western fron-

FILLED WITH TROOPS ; that the Commander-in-Chief had
already surveyed the whole extent of the protected
States with a view to make choice of military positions ;
and that the advanced posts of Loodiana and Ferozepore
were garrisoned. Sir Henry Hardinge neither undid any-
thing of all this, nor found fault with it ; but he carefully
abstained from the discussion in Council or elsewhere of
topics which might turn mens thoughts to war ; and, with-
out neglecting any necessary preparations, bent himself
to the arrangement of plans for the better education of the
people of India," &c.— Pp. 187, 188, No. 155 Quarterly
Beview, June, 1846.

" Sir Henry Hardinge, continued during the winter
of 1844 and the early spring of 1845, to prosecute his
plans for the general improvement of India. That he
kept his eye upon the Punjab, and was neither regard-
less of the confusion into which its affairs were falling,
nor of the consequences to which this might probably
lead, is most certain. He had already directed that
the works both at Loodiana and Ferozepore should be


strengthened ; and raised the garrison of the latter place
from four thousand to seven thousand men. The former |

was held by about six thousand ; and at TJmballa, where 1

Grough's head-quarters were established, and among the
cantonments in its rear, lay about seven thousand five
hundred, of all arms. But as Sir Henry certainly did
not anticipate that the whole power of the Punjab would be
thrown across the Sutlej, he 7iaturally concluded that there
was force enough at hand to meet and repel whatever inva-
sion might be hazarded!' — Page 189, No. 155 Quarterly
Review, June, 1846.

Such entire ignorance of localities, and of what, in
reality, had been done on the frontier is displayed
throughout the article on which we are commenting,
that if we were writing for India alone, the reviewer
might safely be left to his own meditations ; but, as an
air of authority pervades his essay, it may be necessary
to remark, for the benefit of readers in Europe, that
not only " all the towns from Delhi to Kurnaul were "
not " filled with troops," but that not a single soldier
was stationed in any one of them at the period referred J

to ; moreover, that Kurnaul itself had been abolished as *

a military station, a twelvemonth before Lord Hardinge
arrived in India.

If the English language conveys any meaning at all,
the extracts we have quoted imply that Lord Ellen-
borough had prepared everything on the frontier for
war; that Lord Hardinge refrained out of delicacy
from countermanding those preparations, which he,
however, considered unnecessary; but that he as care-
fully refrained from adding to them a single man or
a gun, except at the post of Ferozepore ; satisfied that
the force which his predecessor had collected between
Meerut and the Sutlej was " enough to meet and repel
whatever invasion might be hazarded."



The table below will show how the case really


Strength as

left by Lord


Do. at first

breaking out

of war.



made by Lord


Ferozepore (

4,596 men.
12 guns.

10,472 men.
24 guns.

5,876 men.
12 guns.

Loodiana [

3,030 men.
12 guns.

7,235 men.
12 guns.

4,205 men.

UmbaUa \

4,113 men.

24 guns.

12,972 men.
32 guns.

8,859 men.
8 guns.

Meerut [

5,783 men.
18 guns.

9,844 men.
26 guns.

3,971 men.
8 guns.

Whole frontier, exclusive of]
hill stations which re- >
mained the same . . . )

17,612 men.
66 guns.

40,523 men.
94 guns.

22,911 men.
28 guns.

Yes; as the Quarterly Review in self-correction says
in its " note," two numbers later, " The state of prepara-

* We have taken these figures
chiefly from a " Note" which we can
scarcely say appeared, but which is
to he found in the 157th number of
the Quarterly Review, of December,
1846. The materials of this " Note"
the editor says he received "from
India ; " and that he advances them
" on authority which it is impossible
to controvert;" yet it will scarcely
be credited that after having, six
months previously, in a widely-cir-
culated article on the War, dissemi-
nated the belief that the military
Governor-General of India had been
so absorbed in peaceful occupations
as to forget his frontier and endanger
the empire ; when in process of time
he received " from India " and " on
authority" the completest refutation
in figures and facts ; the ovly amende
which he makes as an historian and
instructor of the public mind, is to
smuggle the contradiction into his
157th number, at the bottom of a
page and the tail end of an article

on " the state of Ireland" ! ! ! This,
too, without any announcement in
the Table of Contents, either on the
cover or fly-leaf, that such a " Note"
was to be found by any one anxious
to know the truth about the war in
India. We wish not to be unchari-
table, but it is apparent that if there
had been as much desire to make
known the corrections, as to blazon
the errors, some more conspicuous
place would have been found for the
" Note," and the usual means have
been adopted of attracting the atten-
tion of the reader by including it in
the Table of Contents. That we are
not imagining a grievance is proved
by the fact that the Indian papers
which copied the entire original ar-
ticle of nearly forty pages, took no
notice, so far as we know, of the
Note of scarcely more than three.
This can only be attributed to their
being unaware of its existence. Cer-
tainly they could not have found it
devoid of interest. — H. M. L.


tion with reference to the Sikhs, at the time of his
arrival in India (July, 1844), did not satisfy him (Lord
Hardinge) at all. On the contrary, within three weeks
of his arrival in Calcutta, — as soon, that is, as he had
received from the Commander-in-Chief a correct state of
the distribution of the force in advance, he came to the
conclusion that it would hy no means suffice, even for defen-
sive purposes ; and that it was wholly inadequate to carry
on an offensive war, should such be forced upon him. In
like manner the answers to his inquiries relative to the
state of the magazines and means of transport, declared
that to assemble 36,000 men — the total amount of
troops stationed within a circuit of some hundreds of
miles — ^would require two months after the order to
concentrate should have reached Benares. Sir H. Har-
dinge saw that this state of things would never do;
and he began forthwith to reinforce every post in advance
— yet did it so quietly, that even in our own provinces
the operation passed unnoticed." — Note in No. 157.

The result was that before he had been three months
in India, Sir Henry Hardinge had several corps march-
ing from the farthest confines of the Bengal Presidency
towards the North- Western frontier ; apparently in the
usual course of relief; but "giving orders that not a
man should withdraw from his position till the relief
arrived ; upon one pretext or another he kept the whole
together; thus doubling without the smallest appear-
ance of care on that head, his disposable force." — Note
in Quarterly Review, iVb. 157.

With a similar prescience of their coming necessity,
the Governor- Greneral in September, 1844, only two
months after his arrival in India, gave orders for Euro-
pean barracks to be built at Terozepore, and they were
completed in April, 1845. In January, 1845, Sir Henry
wrote privately to the Governors of Madras and Bombay


for remount horses ; and borrowed 600 from the former
and 500 from the latter, for his artillery; 968 of which
reached Muttra in November, 1845, before the war broke

From Bombay also the Governor-Greneral summoned
H. M.'s 14th Light Dragoons, foreseeing that if there,
was a war the British cavalry on the frontier would
have warm work of it.

Equal preparation was made in the Ordnance depart-
ment. In January, 1845, the horses of light field
batteries were increased from 98 to 130; four bullock
batteries got horses ; and two batteries of iron 12-pounder
batteries were prepared with elephants.

" It was not, however, by providing men and guns
alone that the Governor-General put matters in a train
against every emergency. Fifty-six large boats prepared
by Lord Ellenborough were brought up from the Indus,
and reached Ferozepore in September, 1845. The floor-
ing, grappling, cables, &c., arrived likewise complete ;
and a pontoon train was borrowed from Sindh, and
rendered available. It was this forethought which
enabled the engineers to lay down the bridge below
Ferozepore in the course of one night and one day;
and to do their work so securely, that the whole of the
invading force — 24,000 strong, with 40 pieces of siege-
cannon, 100,000 camp followers, and 68,000 animals —
passed without the occurrence of a single accident." —
Quarterly Review, note in No. 157.

To quote still further from the ungracious recantation
of the Quarterly ; "it appears in a word, that the new
Governor-General judged it necessary to re-arrange with
the concurrence of the CO. the whole plan of distribu-
tion; and the result of his arrangements was that no
less than 14,000 British soldiers fought at Mudki five
days after the declaration of war ; and after leaving a


strong detachment with the baggage, 17,727 men, in-
cluding seven English regiments and 69 guns at Feroz-
shah three days later." These figured statements are a
sufficient answer to the charge against the Governor-
Greneral of being unprepared ; for no one who has seen
a single regiment, much less a brigade or division move,
can be ignorant that the rapidity with which this force
was concentrated was unprecedented in Indian warfare,
— that not a tithe of the amount was ever before assem-
bled in an equally brief period — and that, without long-
continued previous preparation, not one -half of it could
possibly have been brought to bear within any reason-
able time.

To assist, however, a just estimate of what Lord
Hardinge did in the way of preparation, let us reduce
our speculation to one simple question ; viz. If, out of
32,479 men including the European regiments in the
Hills at and above Umballa in December, 1845, only
17,727 men could be brought into action after junction
with the Loodiana and Ferozepore forces ; and if that
number but just sufficed to beat back the most formid-
able enemy and win one of the most bloody battles
which British India has ever witnessed; what sort of
an army could the Commander-in-Chief have assembled
and brought into the field, and what would have been
the position of the empire, had the strength of the
frontier at and above Umballa remained as Lord Ellen-
borough left it in July, 1844, at 13,538 ?

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 20 of 39)