Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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or on a forced march ; but he forthwith dies of exhaus-
tion, after having, perhaps for a year or more during
the campaign, put the commissariat to the expense of
carrying grain for him, three or four servants, a pony,
and half or a whole camel. In quarters they have no-
thing to do but to brood over their position; to feel
that they are nominally oflfiLcers, and yet that the ser-
jeant-major is liable to command them, and that beard-
less boys are every day put over them. At Vellore and
elsewhere, they did not prevent or give warning of in-
tended massacre and insurrection ; nor have they in the
late cases of the GOth, 34tli, 64th, and of the Cavalry
and Artillery, either given a clue to their officers of
what was the real motive of discontent, or do they
appear to have striven to prevent insubordination.

.We conceive that the motive of Government in hav-
ing three native officers attached to each company and
troop — who have nothing to do, and whose ages may
be said to average sixty-two — must be their supposed
moral influence with the sepoys, and the encourage-
ment given to the latter by placing before their eyes
their kinsmen promoted to such grades, and living com-
fortably and in honour among them. If such be the
reason, how much more potent would this moral in-
fluence be, if the old men were comfortably seated
under their own neem or mangoe trees, talking to their
grandchildren and to the wondering villagers gathered
around them, of the beneficence of the Honourable


Company, instead of toiling in the hot winds on trea-
sure parties, or vexing themselves under young Euro-
pean officers in petty and discomforting duties unsuit-
able to their age, in which, though they are present in
person, they can scarcely be called performers.

We would fain see every soldier, European and Native,
and every native officer, appear before a committee at
fifty years of age, and be at once sent to the invalids,
or remanded for five years' further duty, according to
his health, after which time — that is, at latest after
fifty-five years of age — no man should be allowed to
remain with a regiment. European officers are less ex-
posed than their men ; the waste of vital energy is not
so great : but we are not sure that our commissioned
ranks might not benefit by some such weeding.

Allahabad, Chunar, and other fortresses, as well as
all treasuries and magazines — both of which should i/t-
variably be within forts, or redoubts of some kind or
other — should be garrisoned by invalids, supported by
small detachments of regulars for night and exposed
duties. Invalids should be sent to their homes at sixty
years of age, at latest; or, as at present, earlier periods,
when disabled by sickness or wounds.

'No sepoy, not considered qualified to rise to be a
soobadar, shonld be promoted beyond the rank of naick.
Havildars shonld be promoted, in their turn, to the rank
of jemadar, and if considered unfit for the active duties
of a lieutenant (jemadar) of a company or troop, to be
transferred to the garrison or home invalids, according
to age and strength. Jemadars should rise by seniority
to the rank of soobadar; but no native officer should
be promoted to second in command but for distin-
guished conduct. Seconds should rise to commandants
by seniority, subject of course to proof of continued
good conduct. The adjutants of these native corps


might be promoted at once from tlie rank of naick and
havildar; and as jemadars rise in tlieir turn to com-
mand, naicks being steady soldiers, but passed over as
not being sufficiently smart for native officers, might be
invalided (when worn out, or beyond age) as havildar s.

The Grarrison Invalid corps should in all respects be
paid as troops of the line ; the Home Invalids as at pre-
sent; and aU ranks and orders should understand that
rates of pay will not be altered, that invalids will not
be remanded (as has been the case) to regimental duty ;
and the rates of pay, rations, foreign allowance, &c., &c.,
should be as distinctly and fully laid down as possible,
so that no excuse could be given for error or miscalcu-
lation on the subject.

We should then have three descriptions of Native

Infantry ; the first class, regular infantry, officered by

a full complement of Europeans ; the second class, par-

^ tially so officered \ the third class, commanded and offi-

^cerod eniiraly by natives — but the two last always

employed in brigade, or at least in concert v/ith the
regular corps.

The native officers would then have definite duties,
and not be too old to perform them. The old and worn-
out veterans would be comfortably located in quarters,
or enjoying themselves quietly at home. There would
be less clashing of interests, more contentment, and
greater efficiency, at perhaps a less expense than at
present ; for a much less number than seventy regular
infantry regiments would suffice for Bengal, if we were
to establish an increased number of such as form the
Gwalior Contingent, supported again by a few com-
manded by such soldiers as old Mahommed Issoof.*

* The reader of Indian History will of the Carnatic wars under Lawren cc

remember the commandant of the was the only person who could safely

English sepoys, the famous Mahom- conduct our convoys through the

med Issoof, who in the worst times enemy's country. We commend his


Let US not be met with an outcry about the attendant
decrease of European officers. We know their value
very well, but we know that there are many bad as
well as many good ones ; and. we know that although,
where sepoys have been taught to follow only Euro-
peans, there should always be enough of the latter to
"ensure vacancies being filled up in action, as leaders
fall; yet where meh^ have not been so habituated, v;e
see not why our sepoys should not be permitted to
use the senses and the courage they possess, without
on every occasion relying on the leading and the life
of an individual. Shah Soojah's regiments behaved
aHmlrably in Affghanistan ; and the discipline of Cap-
tain Mitchell's regiment of the old Gwalior Contingent
was the admiration of beholders. Clive's, Lawrence's,
and Coote's battalions had seldom with them more than
three or four ofiicers ; and yet the deeds of those days
are not surpassed by those of the present.

Our regular issue of pay, and our pension establish-
ment, are the foundation-stones of our rule ; and there
cannot be a doubt that for jthe lower orders our service
is a splendid one. But it ofiers no inducement ip
Superior Jntellects, or more stirring, spirits. Men so
"endowed, knowing they can always gain their bread in
any quarter, leave us in disgust, and rise to rank in
foreign services. Did the times avail, they would raise
standards of their own, and turn against us the dis-
cipline they learnt in our ranks. Eank and competence
in our service would bind such men to our interests.
It is a straw that turns the current. Such men as
Nadir Shah and Hyder Ally did not, at the outset, aim
at sovereignty ; their ambition increased with their suc-

history as narrated by Wilkes to our jurious treatment and unjust sus-
readers, and especially the detail picions on the conduct of this fine
(page 326, vol. i.) of the effect of in- old Native soldier.— H. M, L.


cess, and what, early in life, would have contented them,
was, at a later day, despised.

There are many commandants in the Mahrattah and
Seikh service, who were privates in our army. Greneral
Dhokul Singh, now at Lahore, was a drill naick in one
of our sepoy corps ; and Eajah Buktawar Singh, one of
the richest and most powerful men in Oude, was a havil-
dar in our cavalry. But is it not absurd that the rank
of soobadar major and russaldar major is the highest
that a native can attain in a native army of nearly
300,000 men, — in a land, too, that, above all others, has
been accustomed to see military merit rewarded, and
to witness the successive rise of families from the lowest
conditions, owing to gallantry in the field ?

There is always danger in handling edged tools, but
justice and liberality forge a stronger chain than a sus-
picious and niggardly policy. W^ hold that no place
or office should be absolutely barred to the native sol-
dier, although the promotion of every individual should
be groiihded on his individual merits, and the requisite
cautions be taken that he should not be tempted be-
yond his strength. The grandsons of the Grauls who
opposed Csesar, were senators of Eome; and the Jye
Singh s and Jeswunt Singhs led the Mogul armies ; but
it cannot be said that it was to any such liberality the
empire of either Bome or Delhi owed its fall.

^Whenever sepoys and Europeans know and under-
stand each other, the utmost harmony exists between
them; witness the 35th B. N. I. and H.M.'s 13th at
Julalabad; and we remember many such cases of old.
Indeed, it was only the other day that we heard a sepoy
of the 26th N. I. say, *' If we go on service, send with
us Number Nine " (H.M.'s 9th, with which they were
brigaded in Affghanistan). Such a spirit should be
^^^2M^^^^ - ^^^^^ would be well to attach perma-


nently to each European regiment, while in India, a
couple of companies, or more, of picked men, chiefly

^ MussulmanSj^__and the lower tribes of military Hindus
" — these companies to act as the Auxiliaries and Yelites
did with the Eomans. Let them be Light Infantry ;
and, as picked and honoured troops, receive some ad-
ditional pay. We know that Europeans cannot march
in India without a detachment of natives accompany-
ing them, and that such duty, as at present performed,
is much disliked. But placed on some such footing as
above proposed, the service might be made a duty of
honour, and the sepoys of such companies, working
well with Europeans, Avould be almost equal in value

^ to the latter. The system has been found to work well

" with the gun lascars attached to the European Artillery,
even though they have not been cared for and made
much of, as we would propose all natives so employed
should be.

And now a few words on the subject of enlistment.
Our sepoys come too much from the same parts of the
country; Oude, the lower Dooab and upper Behar.

^ There is too much of clanship among them, and the
evil should be remedied by enlisting in the Saharunpoor
"and Delhi districts, in the hill regions, and in the Malay
"" and Burmah States. We laugh at our hill men -, but
they are much the same class as form Bajah Golab
Singh's formidable Jumbo os. But what inducement do
we offer to any but coolies to enter into the Simoor or
Nussuree battalions, when we give the men only five
rupees per month, proportionably pay Native officers,
and calling the corps local battalions, have them one
day at Bhurtpoor, the next at Eerozepoor? Such
policy is very bad; and we should rather encourage
the military classes in the Hills to enter all our corps.
"W"e"^w^ould have, too, some companies or regiments of


Malays ; of China-men ; of Mhugs and Burmese ; and
mix them up at large stations with our sepoy corps.
Iffe would go further, and would encourage the now
despised Eurasians to enter our ranks, either into sepoy
corps where one or two here and there would he useful,
or as detached companies or corps. We are aware that
they are not considered a warlike race. We might
' inake them so, and we doubt not, with good officerSj^
Hcould do so. Courage goes much by opinion ; and
many a man behaves as a hero or a coward, according as
he considers he is expected to behave. Once two Eoman
Legions held Britain; now as many Britons might hold

There is no doubt that whatever danger may threaten
us in India, the greatest is from our own troops. We
should, therefore, while giving no cause of discontent^;
while paying them well and regularly providing for
them in their old age ; while opening a wide field for
legitimate ambition ; and rewarding, with promotion,
medals, jagheers, gallantry and devotion ; abstain from
indiscriminately heaping such rewards upon men unde-
serving of them ; and we should at all times carefully
_ avoid giving anything or doing anything^ under an ap-
pearance of coercion, on the demand., cdL.iliie,.BQldiery.
The corps that under General Pollock misbehaved at
Pesha^nir, should at least have been denied medals.
Had they been so, possibly we should have been spared
late events on the N. W. Frontier and in Scinde ; and
we should remember that every officer is not fitted for
command, much less to command soldiers of a difierent
religion and country ; and that where, as has repeatedly
of late years been shov/n, regiments were found to be
going wrong through the weakness or the tyranny of their
commanders — it matters not whether from too much
strictness or too little — full enquiry should at once be


made and remedial measures instituted. If commanders
cannot manage their regiments, they should be removed
from them, and that quickly, before their corps are
irremediably destroyed. How much better would it be
to pension, and to send to England, such men as we
have in command of some corps, than to allow them to
remain a day at the head of a regiment to set a bad
example to their men. We could, at this moment,
point out mdre than one commander answering our de-
scription ; and we would seriously call the attention of
those in high places to the injury that even one such
officer may commit. He may drive a thousand men
into discontent, and that thousand may corrupt many
thousands — and all this may be done by a man without
any positive evil in him ; but simply because he is not
a soldier, has not the feelings of a soldier ; frets the men
one day, neglects them the next : and is known by them
all to care for nothing beyond his personal interests and
his own hisab-kitab.

Before leaving this subject of the Native Army, wc
must devote a few sentences to one of its most important
components, of which we have made no specific mention.
The Irregular Cavalry is a most useful branch of tlijg„
service, doubly so as providing for military classes tlia^ ; ,
do not fancy our regular service. But v/e much doubt
whether we adopt the best method of keeping up the
efficiency of the Irregulars, which are our light horse ;
but which we encumber, as we do all other branches,
with officers, and even privates, of sixty and even seventy
years of age. We are not sure that we could not point
out many native officers very much above seventy ; and
we once heard a commandant of one of these corps say
his old men were his smartest — no great compliment to
the quality of his young ones. But the fact is, that
the purwustec system is more injuriously employed in


the Irregular Horse than in any other branch of the
army; though generally from kind and good motives.
In times of peace these corps are little thought of, have
nothing to do, are on small outpost duty, or, where col-
lected, are entirely under their commander's authority
and eye ; hut in service they are cruelly and often reck-
lessly knocked about and exposed ; no one has pity on
them, and their own officers have therefore need the
more to care for them. Mostly Patans or Eajpoots and
Mahommedans of family, they are men of expensive
habits, are almost all involved, and, from a system that
has gradually crept in, they do not (generally) receive
the pay allowed them by Government ; that is to say,
every man entering, in (we believe) seven out of the
nine corps, has not only to purchase his horse and
equipments, but to pay one hundred and fifty rupees or
thereabouts to the estate or family of the man whose
decease or invaliding created the vacancy. Such dona-
tion of course throws the recruit at once into the money-
lender's hands, and often leaves him for life a debtor.
If the man again has not the cash to purchase a horse,
he rides one belonging to a Native officer or to some
privileged person, and becomes what is called his bar-
geer — the soldier receiving only seven or eight rupees
a month, and the owner of the horse the balance of the
twenty allowed by Government.

There is much in all this and in the Kutchery and
Banking system, prevalent in almost every corps (and
without which, so deep-rooted is the evil, few Irregular
regiments could now take the field), that requires
gradual amendment, for while Government pays twenty
rupees a month to each man, it is calculated, one with
another, that the men do not receive above sixteen ; and
consequently, as far as efficiency is concerned, they are
as if they received only that much ]3ay ; and when


called on for service, instead of having a stock to draw
on to render them efficient, they have to call on their
banker ; and enter more deeply into his books.

We have heard officers say that but for these bankers
they did not know how they could have taken their
corps on service ; and we know how much trouble,
vexation, and expense, has often been incurred by com-
manders, to render their regiments efficient. But
whatever be the motive — and we believe that in the Ir-
regular Horse it is a very good one — that makes close
boroughs of corps, bringing into them only the sons and
nephews of those already enlisted, when better men are
candidates, the result is bad ; and it is worse still, that
such fines should be paid at starting as tend to shackle
the troopers for life. So great is the evil that we con-
sider that Government would do well to redeem all debts
as they "now stand and forbid the system for the future ;
and peremptorily order the service to be thrown open to
candidates out of the several regiments, being men of
respectability and bringing their own horses or able to
purchase that of the man who created the vacancy. The
fine we have mentioned is in some corps put on the price
of the horse, so that the recruit, instead of one hundred
and twenty-five rupees, has to pay two hundred and
seventy for his charger.

The consequence of all this is, that we have not the
horses, and often not the men, in the Irregular Cavalry,
that we might have for the twenty rupees per month
paid by Grovernment. It is only justice to the Ir-
regulars to say that it is w^onderful what they have done
on service, in spite of their old men and their small,
poor horses; but having done well with little means,
they would assuredly do better under a more encom^ag-
ing system. The Poona Horse, we understand, receive
thirty rupees per month, and they are a most efficient



body. The matter of pay and equipment of tlie Ir-
regulars requires serious attention; bad Cavalry are
worth little, and we would prefer five regiments of first-
rate, to ten of indifferent, quality.

As our army is constituted, the Irregular Horse is the
only outlet for the native gentry. Every day it becomes
less so, while recruiting is restricted to dependants of
those already in the service. Lord EUenborough's
project of adding a portion of Irregulars, on increased
pay, to the Body-guard was a wise measure ; and we
should be glad to see still further encouragement held
out to gallantry and devotion. A Bassalah in each re-
giment might be formed from men who had distin-
guished themselves, each man of such troop receiving
four or five rupees additional monthly pay. We would
also give the command of half the Irregular corps to
Native officers; such commanders, with their seconds
and adjutants, to be selected for gallantry and good
conduct; two brigades, each of two such corps, might
be formed in the Bengal presidency ; one stationed at
Umbala, the other at Cawnpore ; to be commanded by
a brigadier under the Native title of Bukshee with a
brigade-major under the designation of Naib — these
two (European) officers not interfering in regimental
details, further than paying the men and sanctioning
promotions — the Bukshees and Naibs to be officers
selected from present commandants. The system, we
are convinced, would work well as giving objects of am-
bition to the more adventurous spirits. And having
two good European officers with them, there would
always be a check on the conduct of the Native com-
manders, who, we believe, would feel pride in keeping
their corps in as efficient a state as those commanded by
European officers.

But after all, what could we do without the Euro-


pean portion of the army? — useless of course by itself;
but without which all else would soon pass from our
hands. And yet how do we repay the gallant hearts
that daily bleed for us, that daily sink and expire in a
foreign land, uncared for and unpitied^? We chiefly
allude to the Company's European troops, but much
will apply to Her Majesty's. How little is done, or at
least how much more might be done, for the comfort
and happiness of the men, and by the saving of their
lives, for the pockets of Grovernment !

In the first place, we consider that Fort William is
about the worst station in India for Europeans, — espe-
cially for new comers. We would therefore see H. M.
Eegiments at once proceed up the country ; and
throughout India would have the Europeans, as far
as possible, on the Hills, not keeping a man more than
absolutely necessary on the plains. Three-fourths of
the European Infantry and Eoot Artillery and one-half
of the Dragoons and Horse Artillery might easily be
established on the Hills; and of the corps at Fort
William, Madras, and Bombay, all the weakly men
should be at Cherrah Poonjee or Darjeeling; or at
the sanataria of the other presidencies. Nature has
given us chains of hills in all directions, not only east
and west, but through Central India, that would enable
us to have moderately-cool stations in every quarter;
and when the expense in life and in death of Europeans
on the present system is considered; when it is re-
membered that every recruit costs the Government one
thousand rupees, or £100; that barracks, with tatties
and establishments and hospitals, must be kept up at
great expense, and that with all appliances the life of
an European is most miserable, how clear it is, that we
should alter the old system, and, following the laws of
nature, avail ourselves of the means and localities at

D 2


our disposal that enable us, at a mucli less expense, to
keep up our Europeans in double their present efficiency
in the Hills ; entailing, it is true, a certain first outlay,
but which would be soon covered by the saving of
life and the reduction in establishments, rations, &c.
If Lord Ellenborough had done nothing else in India,
he would deserve well of his country for establishing
three European stations on the Hills. Three more may
easily be so placed on the Bengal presidency ; and the
proportion of Artillery and Cavalry Ave have mentioned
be posted there. But we must have good roads and
ample means of conveyance on all the routes and
rivers leading to such locations ; we must have a
certain proportion of carriage kept up ; and have our
rivers covered with boats, and among them many

We would advocate the employment, or permission
to employ themselves, of half the Europeans on the
Hills as liandicrafts, in agriculture, trade, &c. A large
proportion of the household troops are so employed in
London ; and yet the Gruards of England have never
been found wanting. Rations, establishments and bar-
racks in half quantities would thus only be required;
and perhaps a portion of the pay of men so employed
would in time be saved. Small grants of land, too,
might be given on the Hills or in the Dhoon to Euro-
pean invalids of good character, on terms of military
service within a certain distance ; or on terms of sup-
plying a recruit, for seven or ten years, to a European

Three-fourths of the European children, who now die
in the barracks on the plains, would live on the Hills,
and would recruit our corps with stout healthy lads,
such as may be seen in Mr. Mackinnon's school at
Mussouree, instead of the poor miserable parboiled


creatures, that we see as drummer boys throughout the

The Chunar establishment bodily moved to the Mus-
sourie neighbourhood would be an incalculable benefit
and blessing. Indeed, it is marvellous that the cruelty

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 3 of 39)