Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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the State, it curtailed establishments with less injury to
public credit than ever was before accomplished.

There is one feature of this question which the future
historian will dwell on with special satisfaction. Scarcely
was the Punjab war over, when the party in the British
Senate with which the Governor-Greneral had always
acted were ejected from power. They had honoured
and rewarded him, and he might now have retired, or,
when remaining at the request of his political adver-
saries — who seem to have treated him with as much
consideration as if one of themselves — he might not
unreasonably be expected to forward no financial arrange-
ments that would affect his popularity during the brief
remainder of his stay in India. An ordinary man
would certainly thus have acted ; but far otherwise was
Lord Hardinge's practice. In the face of the clamour
of a portion of the Press he as honestly and unflinch-
ingly used the shears as Lord William Bentinck could
have done — as effectively as if he himself were to have



been the gainer. He had submitted his resignation to
the home authorities. He had expressed his desire to
be relieved in the winter of 1847 ; so that, without
any apparent dereliction of duty, he might have left
every invidious measure to be carried out — every re-
duction to be enforced by his successor.

We shall enter somewhat fully — we trust not tedi-
ously — into these reductions, premising that, since the
year 1837, the Indian army had been increased by no
less, in round numbers, than 120,000 men. More than
half of these levies were discharged, and yet all vulner-
able points were left as well guarded as they ever were;
and the North-west frontier was placed on a footing of
strength sufficient to satisfy the most clamorous

With the exception of the cavalry, every branch of
the Indian army had been increased since 1837 ; the
officers by no less than 834 ; in the proportion of 656
to the infantry, 146 to the artillery, and 32 to the
engineers. Above 50,000 men were reduced after the
war, leaving the army still stronger by more than that
number than it was in 1837. None of the officers,
Native or European, were touched. Certain local corps
were disbanded ; while other " irregulars," more ur-
gently required, were subsequenty raised. Among these
are the Scinde and Sikh levies. The chief reduction was
caused by bringing down the strength of corps from
1100 to 800 men.* This was effected by giving a bonus
of from three to twelve months' pay to every man will-
ing to take his discharge ; and by permitting men to
invalid in 1847 who, in the usual course, would not
have been passed till 1848. No soldier, however, of
the regulars was discharged against his will ; and none
of the irregular horse who had served seven years ;
* They were permitted gradually to fall to 750.


while every individual of the latter, however short his
service, discharged on the reduction, received a gratuity
of twelve months' pay, being no less than £24 for a
private horseman — a noble sum, a fortune to many.

Eight regiments of cavalry were raised during the
war ; and all of them for very good reasons were irre-
gulars. First because a corps can be formed in a month
or two, and costs only £19,000 per annum; while one
of regulars costs £39,000 ; secondly, because they are
more easily moved and provided for ; requiring (includ-
ing officers) only thirty-seven doolie bearers and twenty-
two camels, while a corps of regular cavalry requires
sixty and 200 respectively; lastly and above all, because,
during the Sikh campaign, after every exertion, we
never had 4500 sabres in the field opposed to not less
than 30,000. We were deficient in numbers, not material.
When Punjab afiairs were settled, the strength of corps
of irregular horse was reduced to 500, and it was sub-
sequently designed to bring them down to 420, the
strength of the regular cavalry ; but, as in the infantry,
the full number of corps as also their constitution was
kept up, so as to enable officers on the shortest notice to
fill up their ranks. The gratuity of a twelvemonths
pay to the discharged men was a humane measure, be-
cause many had incurred debt to enable them to enter
the service, and it then became clearly a man's own
fault if he was unable to make a fresh start in life with
a trifle in his pocket : it was a politic act, because it
induced volunteers, when required, to crowd to our

Thus the reduction in the Native army was effected,
with the least possible detriment to efficiency. The
cavalry, the arm in which we were most deficient, was
increased by eight regiments ; and the number of sabres,
even after reductions, by some hundreds. For the police

Y 2


battalions the more efficient Scinde and Sikli levies were
substituted. The police corps did not give satisfaction.
No man who has much w^orked with natives could have
expected otherwise. The theory of a military police is
excellent ; but as a general rule natives of India will
not take to a double trade. They will not both fight
and write; they will not do menial work and head
work. There are of course exceptions to this as to
every other rule ; but with some personal experience in
these matters, we are decidedly of opinion, that the
native of India who has been in the habit of doing one
work well, will fail in a double duty. There are a dozen
reasons for what we aver. Listlessness, cowardice, vanity,
and the prejudices of the caste to which they belong,
all interfere with such combination of duties. He who
reckons on orientals by European rules will assuredly
reap repentance. The Sikh and Scinde levies are more
decidedly military bodies than the police battalions, and
bring into our ranks men who have fought against us ;
and might, if not employed, do so again. This, indeed,
is another reason for encouraging irregular cavalry, as
it is chiefly formed of the most military portion of the
Mahommedan population.

Though several European regiments were sent home
after the war, it is quite a mistake to suppose that the
European force in India was then decreased below the
usual average. On the contrary, it very far exceeded
what was considered sufficient to defend India during
any period of the China, Gwalior, Scinde, and Affghan-
istan campaigns, — the fact being that though between
the years 1837 and 1842, the force in Bengal was in-
creased by no less than one dragoon and seven infantry
regiments, an equal number were generally absent be-
yond the limits of India. During the years 1843-44,
and '45, this branch of the army counted three regi-


ments of dragoons and fourteen of infantry, being one
of the former, and five of the latter, in excess of the
establishment of 1837. In the year 1838, while the
whole European force in the Bengal presidency was
only two regiments of cavalry and nine of infantry, one
of the first and two of the last were in Affghanistan ;
and in 1840, when the infantry establishment was in-
creased to twelve regiments, not less than six were
absent, viz. three in China, and three in Affghanistan.
In the year 1846 the infantry regiments were again in-
creased to sixteen by orders from home, but before the
reinforcements could arrive peace was declared.*

It was, we understand, intended after the war to keep
three regiments of dragoons and eleven of infantry on
the Bengal establishment, being one of cavalry, and hvo
of infantry in excess of the establishment of 1837, before
Grwalior or the Punjab was subdued !
. At Madras, in the year 1841, there were eight Euro-
pean regiments, but of these three were absent; viz.
one in China, one at Aden, and one at Moulmein ; leav-
ing five. The establishment was reduced to eight !
At Bombay, the European force was

In 1837 4^ regiments (a wing being at Aden).

„ 1838 21

„ 1839 3

. 1840 4

„ 1841 4 „

One regiment went home, leaving seven ; but a wing

* This was a very natural and cessary. No : his reinforcements

proper caution on the part of the were much nearer ; Sir Charles Na-

home authorities, but it was un- pier was in Scinde with 23,000 men .

advisedly made a handle for the re- When the war ended in February,

port that Lord Hardinge wrote to 1846, Napier was at hand wdth 16,000

England, after Ferozeshah, for 12,000 men and fifty guns ; while supports

troops. The fact, however, is, he did from England could hardly have

not write for a man. Lord Hardinge reached before the spring of 1847,

was not the person to wait till the unless by Egypt, and there in April

middle of a war before he indented and May the soldiers would have

on England for all he considered ne- suffered from heat. — H. M. L.


being at Aden, and two regiments in Scinde, the same
number as in 1837 remained for the duties of the pre-

Thus we have shown that the European force actually
within the limits of India was left considerably stronger
than at any former period — though for the first time
since our sovereignty commenced there was no organ-
ized army (Nepal excepted, which has no cavalry) in
India but our own. To make the matter still plainer
to unprofessional readers, we may remark that, during
profound peace, the European force in India, though
5000 men less than the war establishment of 1846,
was 10,000 in excess of that of the year 1835, and 9000
stronger than that of 1837, when the hostile army of
Grwalior was on our flank, the Sikhs in our front, and
the expedition to Affghanistan was already on the tapis !

The increase to the army since 1837, in Bengal alone,
exceeded 50,000 men ; the reductions, including Queen's
regiments sent home, exceeded 30,000 men, at a saving
of £700,000. In Bombay, including a European regi-
ment, 7000 men, at a saving of £300,000, and in Madras
10,000, at a saving of £160,000.

Thus the total reductions made by Lord Hardinge
were £1,160,000, while with the Lahore subsidy of
£220,000, and the Jullunder and Cis-Sutlej proceeds
(after deducting expenses) of £500,000 more, we have
a total improvement of the revenue during the year
1847 of £1,880,000 sterling;— so that, with reductions
at Bombay and Madras, the relief to the finances of
India could not have fallen short of two millions of
money; giving, for the first time since 1838, a prospect
of escape from bankruptcy.

The advocates of annexation, those who think the
Indus or the Solemane range should be our border,
may with advantage reflect on the above facts. An-


nexation that tends to insolvency can never be bene-
ficial. Hitherto our debt has increased with our
frontier; and we are satisfied that the Punjab would be
no exception to the rule. Its revenues are not four
millions, as influential journals in England consider;
they are scarcely one-third of that sum; and of it
nearly half is expended in jaghirs and the British sub-
sidy. Could we with our present establishments safely
hold the four Western Doabs, or the other half? We
think not ; and had we tried to do it, where would have
been the reductions above displayed? Would those
who feared to occupy Lahore, with 10,000 men, at the
earnest 2yr ay er of the Sikh nation, have had no misgiv-
ings, when again in front of the formidable Khybur —
when again confronted mth the Murris, the Bogtis, and
the Yizeris, while the irritated Sikh population was in
their rear? Each river of the Punjab would have been
as dangerous, or at least as dreaded, as a Khurd Cabul
or a Khybur, and we must literally have kept up an
army in each Doab, or India and Europe would have
rung with forebodings of disaster — instead of a reduction
of the army, then, there must have been an increase, and
especially in the most expensive branches; the Euro-
peans; — ^the artiUery and the cavahy. Above all,
instead of sending home Queen's regiments, we must
have indented for six or eight more, and for years at
least the country would have been a loss to us. The
balance-sheet is the best answer against annexation !

In proof that the reductions we have noticed did not
unduly affect our military strength, we proceed briefly
to contrast our posture, in the most vulnerable quarters,
before and after the war.

A European regiment was withdrawn from Moul-
mein — wisely, we think. The force there was not strong
enough to make, though it might tempt, war. Our


steamers enabled us to reinforce the Tenasserim coast,
and to destroy Bangoon, at a few hours' notice.

The small fortified posts of Petoragurh and Lohu
Grhat on the western Nepal frontier, inviting attack,
were dismantled, and their garrisons withdrawn. The
regiment of native infantry was recalled from Almorah,
where it should never have been stationed, and the fort
at that station was strengthened, and made tenable
against all comers until it could be relieved.

An irregular cavalry corps was stationed at Gorukpur,
in communication with that at Segowlie ; the best pos-
sible arm to employ in watching the Gurkhas. By
Lord EUenborough's arrangements, Gwalior had become
an armed friend, occupied by a British force more than
double that which w^on '' Meani.''

There remains only the North- Western frontier. We
have already shown, but may repeat, that in July, 1844,
when the Sikh army was in force at Lahore, the British
troops at and above Meerut, amounted to 24,000 men
and 66 guns, but were increased by Lord Hardinge by
1st of December, 1845, to 45,000 men and 98 guns.
After the war, though there were not 3000 Sikh soldiers
in the whole country around Lahore and Umritsur, and
those under our orders. Lord Hardinge had 54,000 men
and 120 field guns as well as a hatterinf/ train of equal
strength at and above Meerut 1 *

A comparison of these numbers should satisfy the
most apprehensive mind, that, in making his well-con-
sidered reductions. Lord Hardinge never hazarded the
safety of the empire. Not only during the whole of
the year 1846 were moveable brigades, complete in
carriage and equipment, kept up at Lahore, Terozepore,

* We are indebted for much of letters signed Zeta and Omega, which

the information contained in this appeared in the Bombay Times. —

portion of our article to some instruc- H. M. L.
tive, and apparently authoritative,


and Jullunder, but in the midst of profound peace tliey
were retained. Each consists of one European rer^iment
and three of Native infantry, one of cavalry, and twelve
guns. The former had also two companies of sappers
and a second regiment of cavalry. These brigades
were under two distinguished brigadiers, Campbell and
"Wheeler, both aides-de-camp to the Queen, and the whole
commanded by Sir John Littler. These three brigades
could be reinforced in ten days by four regiments of
British infantry ; while there were three of cavalry, with
seventy guns and 20,000 Native infantry, in reserve.

Lord Hardin ge's Ordnance arrangements ought alone
to satisfy men's minds that, in all that concerned mili-
tary matters, he was thoroughly at home. Not a man
or a gun from the war establishment was reduced ; 60
nine-pounder guns before drawn by bullocks were soon
horsed, and there were siege and field artillery on and
near the frontier sufficient to meet any contingency, and
it cannot be his Lordship's fault if our Horse artillery
ammunition ever again runs short in action, or if our
siege trains are ill-supplied.*

We have entered at such length into the origin, con-
duct, and results of the war with the Sikhs, the great
episode of Lord Hardinge's Administration, that we
have space only to glance at some of the civil measures

* The old system did not allow patiate on the excellences of the men

sufficient ammunition to the field and of the captains, and we believe

artillery. Lord Hardinge rectified it to have been his opinion that the

the error. We would, however, chief want of the artillery, as of the

correct an impression that prevails Bengal army, in all its branches, was

in some quarters, that, because the a senior list. We may here mention,

Governor-General expressed himself what is little known — we are not

warmly regarding the deficiency of sure that it is so to Lord Hardinge —

ammunition at the beginning of the that the chief reason for the ammu-

campaign, he, therefore, thought ill of nition having run out at Ferozeshah

the Bengal Artillery. Far otherwise, was the extraordinary number of

He thought them, as all who have waggons that blew up. Of eighteen

seen their practice must do, as good that went into action under Lt. Col.

artillery as any in the world. Indeed, Geddes, no fewer than seven ex-

his Lordship was often heard to ex- ploded. — H. M. L.


to which the restoration of peace eBabled him to turn
his attention.

The question of the great Ganges canal had met
with cool advocacy and warm opposition. Mr. Thoma-
son's views were opposed ; Major Cautley, the able pro-
jector, was in England, and the war called away his
excellent successor. Captain Baker, and his assistants.
Doubts were raised as to the advisability of opening a
new canal, when those, on a much smaller scale, now
running past Delhi and Kurnaul, had rendered these
towns and cantonments unhealthy. A sanatory com-
mittee was appointed and ordered to proceed to the
canals ; there to investigate the amount of sickness
usually caused by them, and to draw up a full report
embodying their own suggestions. The committee pre-
pared a very curious table, demonstrating most clearly
that the size of the spleens of children, in the tract
irrigated by the Delhi canals, increased in proportion to
their vicinity to the inundation. The fact was not
ascertained from examination of bed-ridden patients,
but from scores of boys and girls who were running
about the villages. It was, however, also ascertained
that these symptoms of disease were little thought of
by the people themselves, and that sufferers from inter-
mittent fever preferred to be subject to such trials
rather than to lose the fertilizing waters of the canals.
It was also shown that the course of the Jumna canals
being through a low line of country, difficult of drain-
age, caused swamps and stagnant pools, at the most
unhealthy season of the year, as around Kurnaul. Much
if not all of this might be remedied, and it was believed
that Delhi and Kurnaul might be restored to compara-
tive salubrity.

By a judicious system of drainage, it was expected
that malaria might be prevented, and with this view it


was designed that the Ganges canal should follow the
highest ridge of the Doab, at a prescribed safe distance
from towns and cantonments. Thus, irrigation would
be prevented in the vicinity of masses of people, and it
might be hoped that care and attention would mitigate
the existing canal evils to the rural population. Indeed
we do not see why irrigation might not be prohibited
within prescribed distances of village sites; but, as
already remarked, the cultivators prefer good crops with
miasma and visceral disease, to dearth, hunger, and
starvation. Malaria doubtless does shorten life, but it
is unquestionable that for hundreds whom it has de-
stroyed in India famine has carried off its tens of thou-
sands. Who can estimate the misery and mortality of
the famine of 1837? the loss and expense of which
alone, in a single year, cost the Government a million
of money — much what the Ganges canal is estimated
at ! Only four years previously, in 1833, that of Gun-
toor cost sixty lakhs and the lives of a quarter of a
million of people !

Another danger was prognosticated. It was feared
that to divert from the Ganges seven-eighths of the
main stream would endanger its navigation. As the
proposed canal is to be navigable for boats, and as the
river is now scarcely so, throughout the year,*" this
objection seems to us unimportant.

After a rigid calculation of the advantages to be
gained and the risks to be encountered, the Governor-
General, in March, 1846, visited the head of the canal
and its most important feature the Solani aqueduct, and
then authorized the vigorous prosecution of the work.
We understand that the annual expenditure of a quarter

* We have ourselves, in an English Furmkabad and Allahabad. — H.
wherry, been a dozen times aground, M. L.
in the month of March, between


of a million sterling has since been sanctioned from home.
Six years will probably open a canal of not less than
600 miles in length, to spread its fertilizing waters over
1,200,000 acres, to secure from famine several millions
of people, and to remain a lasting monument of British
architecture and of British benevolence in India.*

That Mr. Stephenson and his staff made their way
to Calcutta, prepared to commence the grand Northern
Railway, is mainly attributable to Lord Hardinge's
sound advice and practical good sense. It must
ever redound to his credit that when his colleagues,
men supposed to be more cognizant of India's wants,
doled out such a small modicum, of Government assist-
ance as would have smothered the project for ever,
the Governor-General, taking an enlarged and states-
man-like view of the question, declared, "I am of
opinion that the assistance to be given ought not to be
limited merely to the land;" and further on, " the value
of the land is not commensurate with the advantages
which the State would derive from rapid and daily
communications between Calcutta and Delhi;" and
again, "the calculation of the contribution to be given
should be based on the political, military, and commer-
cial advantages which would be derived from the com-
pletion and full operation of such a line." His Lord-
ship's task was a peculiarly hard one. He had, at a
time of great financial pressure, in the face of the com-
bined opinion of his civil counsellors, to advocate a
large outlay. He had his reward in seeing the founda-
tion of that noble work laid, which it was Lord Dal-
housie's privilege to see fairly in operation. In his
Lordship's character and previous career, there was an
earnest that he would not be found wanting in works of
improvement : indeed in his speech at the dinner given
* It will be borne in mind that this was written in 1847.


to him by the Court of Directors, on the 4th of No-
vember, his Lordship declared that he would do all that
prudence permitted in opening out communications be-
tween different parts of the land. The guarantee of
five per cent, for twenty-five years made the invest-
ment an excellent one as a private speculation, while
to Government the advantages of railroads are incal-
culable. With the means of rapidly transporting our
munitions, our batteries, and our battalions from one
end of the empire to the other, we may confidently
defy all danger, and the strength of British India will
be more than doubled. Famine can no more stalk in
one quarter, while plenty smiles in others. The trains
that convey provisions for our English soldiers to the
fort of the Himalayas will return with the products
of those mountains, whose dyes, herbs, and minerals
will now find a market.

Lord Hardinge has added another to the number of
sanataria, and has, we hope, prepared the way for all
Europeans, henceforward invalided for India, to be sent
to the mountains. We are satisfied that it is only
misapprehension of the advantages to be gained that
prevents the veterans of Chunar now, to a man, vo-
lunteering for the Hills'. And who can deny, when
masses of men can be transported from the sea to the
frontier and back again within the week, that every
European regiment in the service should have its chief
hospital in the Hills, where at least half the period of
service of every English soldier should be spent ? *

While anxious to further the introduction of rail-
roads. Lord Hardinge very far from neglected those
communications to which we must still, for so many

* A few months ago ice was sane- night, in the barracks in the plains,

tioned for European hospitals, and This is indeed doing as we would be

we hear that it is now determined done by : the measure will save many

to allow punkahs, both day and lives. — H. M. L.


years, be indebted. On his arrival, finding the works

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 27 of 39)