Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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I Hindus; they will have learnt to object to mess
\ together, and in all points will be as helpless and as
>«ubservient as Brahmins or Eajpoots. The plan to be
followed, to get and to keep the best soldiers throughout
India, and to quietly oppose class against class, and tribe
; against tribe, is to have separate regiments of each
I creed or class, filling up half, three-fourths, or even
\ more of the commissioned and non-commissioned ranks
from their own numbers. Thus there might be Brah-
min, Eajpoot, Aheer, Goojur, Meena, Eanghur, Patau,
Mogul, Malay, Goorkha, and Sikh regiments, as also


Chumar and Sweeper ones. Each to have a sprinkling ■
of other castes or tribes, stout fellows, with more than
their proportion of promotion, and therefore able to
hold their own. Say, in a corps of Brahmins, a
hundred Eajpoots, and as many Mahommedans. In
one of Sweepers, a couple of hundred Mahommedans.
Similarly with Sikhs and Goorkhas, a sprinkling of
Hill Eajpoots and Moslems. Such dilutions will be
sufficient to prevent, or at least to bring to light, in-
ternal disaffection ; while it not only cuts off sectarian
influence, but unostentatiously opposes class to class
and party to party. We have not a doubt that, thus /
organized, the low-caste man, who, under present in-
fluences, is the mere creature of the Brahmin, would as
readily meet him with the bayonet, as he would a Ma-
hommedan. There might still be many regiments com-
posed much as at present, only keeping the very high,
and very low castes more apart.

Some people will say that Brahmins will not act with
low-caste men. We happen to know better. In the
Bombay army Sweeper subadars command Brahmin
sepoys. We ourselves have seen Bheels and Meenas,
Grassias and Patans, Aheers and Eajpoots, all shoulder
to shoulder, all working well and amicably together,
notwithstanding that the first two tribes eat carrion,
and are classed little, if at all, above Mehturs. We are
aware that such arrangements are only to be carried out
by tact and determination. In a certain Bheel corps
the Grassias and others combined to refuse to salute the
first Bheel who was promoted to the rank of a subadar.
The commanding officer, having seated the Bheel on a
chair by his side, called in the whole company, asked
each individual his intentions, ordered him to salute the
Bheel and pass on. The Hindustanis did so; three
Grassias refused. On the instant they were discharged.


There was no more hesitation ; the Bheel subadar ever
afterwards was duly obeyed.

Tt is, however, well known that low- caste men give
most trouble about caste ; that the Sweepers of the
Bombay and Madras armies are more fanciful than the
Brahmins and Eajpoots. Eeligionists, too, whether
Hindoo or Mahommedan, whether Syuds, or Brahmins,
or Swamees, influence only the mob ; they do not touch
each other. They should therefore have their energies,
as far as possible, confined to their own classes.

Under somewhat such arrangements as above sug-
gested, there would be no scarcity of Sikhs or Groorkhas
in the ranks, nor, indeed, if desirable, of Malays,
Moplas, and Arabs. At present few original Groorkhas
enter the British service, simply because it is not worth
their while. It was recently shown, in the Calcutta
Review y^ how a thousand Groorkhas had been enlisted in
a week. The same means are open any day to Grovern-
ment. Let a popular officer be sent to raise a corps of
Groorkhas in communication with the Besident at Khat-
mandoo. Let three-fourths of the native commissions,
&c., be given to Goorkhas, and there will be no scarcity
of recruits. There must, of course, be good manage-
ment ; but the ice once broken, there will always be a
fair proportion of Goorkhas in the British ranks.

In Oude the Punjab mistake has been reversed.
Oude has long been the Alsatia of India. In that pro-
vince were to be met, even more than at Hyderabad or
at Lahore, the Afreedee and Euzufzye of the Khyber,
the Belooch of Khelat, and the Wazeree of the Suli-
mani range. There also congregated the idle, the dissi-
pated, and the disaffected of every native State in India.
Added to these were many deserters from the British
ranks. Yet the contingent of twelve thousand men

** Article, " Sir Charles Napier's Posthumous Work."


has been almost wholly filled from the old Oude army.
The reason assigned for the different line of conduct is,
that the Punjab was conquered, but that Oude fell in
peace. In this there is a fallacy, little understood, but
not the less a fallacy. Proportionally few of the insti-
gators of opposition at Lahore, and in the Sikh army,
were Sikhs. They were British subjects, many of them
British deserters. The general feeling of the Sikhs
was hardly hostile ; many of the Sikhs were friendly —
decidedly so, compared with the Hindustanis in the
Punjab service.

The king of Oude employed 59,000 soldiers ; his
chiefs and officials at least as many more. Of these vast
numbers, one-fifth at the utmost have found employment
in the police and irregular corps. Yet these levies, with
half-a-dozen regular corps, form the whole army of oc-
cupation. This seems a grave mistake. Why not at least
make a change ? Why not move some of the Punjab
regiments that have been keeping watch and ward on the
Indus for seven years to Oude, and send some of the king's
people to the north-west ? The king had some SOOO^artil-
lery. Of these about 500 may have obtained employ-
ment ; the rest, old and young, are on the world. Surely
if there was danger in employing Sikhs in 1849, it would
be well to remove some portion of the levies from Oude,
where such materials for mischief still remain. In the
province are 246 forts, besides innumerable smaller
strongholds, many of them sheltered within thick jun-
gles. In these forts are 476 guns. Ports and guns
should all be in the hands of Grovemment, or the forts
should be razed. Many a foolish fellow has been urged
on to his own ruin by the possession of a paltry fort ;
and many'a paltry mud fort has repulsed British troops.
Ports and intrenched posts, moreover, notwithstanding
all Sir Charles Napier and other great authorities have


said, are the bridles and the main safeguards of all,
especially of conquered, countries. Spain confirms,
indeed all Europe and all history confirm, this opinion.
Gribbon imputes the downfall of the Eoman empire,
among other causes, to the facts that —

" In the vast extent of the Roman empire there were few fortified cities
capable of protecting a routed army, nor was there any person, or family,
or order of men, whose natural interest, unsupported by the powers of
Government, was capable of restoring the cause of a sinking party."

The latter portion of the passage hits the British
Grovernment. Hitherto it has made no interest with
the people ; it therefore the more needs an efficient and
contented army.

The eighty or ninety thousand disbanded Oude sol-
diers are the brethren of the British sepoys. In one
sense this makes them more dangerous, in another more
safe. All will expect much from Government, most too
much. Future tranquillity will greatly depend on the
manner in which justice, firmness, and kindly considera-
tion are combined in Oude arrangements. We simply
recommend forethought, moderation, and common sense
for Oude, for all new countries, indeed for India gene-

No troops, regular or irregular, should remain for
ever in one province. They should move every three
or four years ; not at one step from Peshawur to Cal-
cutta, as is sometimes the order ; but step by step, from
one end of the country to the other. All these are
very obvious truths ; they are, however, not the less dis-
regarded. While on this topic we commend to the
attention of Oude, Punjab, and Nagpore administrators
Gibbon s 43rd chapter, on the rebellions of Africa, when
among other events —

" Two-thirds of the army were involved in the guilt of treason ; and
eight thousand insurgents, assembling on the field of Bulla, elected Stoza
for their chief, a private soldier (the italics are ours), who possessed, in a
superior degree, the virtues of a rebel."


Volumes nine and twelve of the Calcutta Beview
have largely dwelt on the history, the services, and the
necessities of the Bengal artillery. Intending shortly
again to enter in detail on the artillery question, we
need here only cursorily refer to that arm. Except at
Guzerat, the Indian army has always heen greatly over-
matched in guns; and as British commanders have
ordinarily delighted to attack in front, the loss of life
has been proportionally great. By reversing the rule at
Guzerat, the enemy was smashed at little cost. With
very few exceptions our proceedings have been similar
in the conduct of sieges. In 1825-26, at Bhurtpoor,
close to the Agra magazine, and with the result of the
first siege before our eyes, the army nearly ran out of
ammunition, and was not over-supplied with guns. The
tardy and insufficient supplies on the Sutlej will be in
the memory of many, even though Lahore and Umrit-
sur were expected to resist. Indeed Hatras is the only
fortress against which the army went altogether pre-
pared. The result was success after a few hours' shelling.
Those were the days when Lord Metcalfe lifted his voice
to urge the authorities to expend shot and shells rather
than human lives. European lives, at least, are more
expensive than ordnance ammunition.

We recently showed that 506 field guns are attached
to the Indian army of 323,823 men, being one gun to
630 fighting men, instead of to* 500 as, at the lowest
calculation, should be the equipment. Jomini and other
eminent wiiters give three guns to a thousand men as
the needful proportion. It is true, as Jomini remarks,
that Napoleon conquered Italy with 50 guns, while he
failed in Eussia with 1200. It is not the less true
that his batteries of 50 and 100 guns won him several
battles. There is really no excuse for insufficient or
inefiicient artillery in India, and yet the proportions


here are below the standards of all armies. Moreover,
of the 506 existing field guns, 102 are what is called
irregular ; that is, have, at the utmost, one officer to six
guns. To some few no officer is attached. Such guns
can never be as efficient as other batteries. Two officers,
at least, are absolutely required to each battery. We
are glad to perceive that a second officer has recently
been appointed to each Punjab one. In other quarters
seconds are equally required. An irregular battery is
an absurdity. It is truly childish hazarding the effici-
ency of six guns on the life and energy of a single officer.
Horses should be given to all remaining bullock batteries.
What are called " post guns " are as liable to move as
any others within the provinces ; their being unable to
do so might, on occasion, be disastrous.

We quite agree with the late Sir Charles Napier that
the foot artillery is sacrificed to the horse : we do not
agree as to his remedy. Horse artillery are as requisite
to act with cavalry, as foot artillery with infantry. The
whole of the artillery should always be kept up on the
amplest scale, and on the most efficient footing. Not-
withstanding all the idle talk of Sikh guns and Sikh
practice during the Punjab war, the Indian artillery is
unmistakably superior to all that can be brought against
it. All the field batteries should be nine-pounders, as
all but one, and "the mountain train," are in Bengal.
Indeed we would have half the horse artillery of that
cahbre, and keep a nine-pounder equipment for every
troop ready at the nearest magazine. The change from
sixes to nines of the Eoyal artillery, just previous to
Waterloo, may have saved that glorious day. The nine-
pounders did at least greatly help to win it. Two or
three elephant field batteries should be kept up at points
on the trunk or railroad, whence they could be made
most generally available.


In a former essay we remarked that 300 battering
guns, with as many mortars, might be turned out of
the Indian magazines in a month; we should like to
think that every magazine could move a second-class
train in a fortnight. We are aware that the present
Inspector-Greneral is quite alive to the subject. We
desire to strengthen his hands. Why are there not
Inspectors of Ordnance at Madras and Bombay? And
why is not the School of Instruction at Meerut put on
a really efficient footing ? Half the object in moving
the Bengal Artillery head- quarters to Meerut has been
lost by petty savings. The artillery is one of the last
legitimate fields for retrenchment.

The next increase in artillerymen may, with advantage,
be partly Golundauze. They are admirable soldiers, die
at their guns, never join in disaffection, scarcely ever in
discontent. Eegarding Golundauze, there has been at
all the Presidencies more than the usual see-saw of the
Indian army.* In Calcutta, a hundred years ago,
Foreigners, Papists, and natives, were prohibited entering
the arsenal. Half a century later, the Bengal artillery
were stronger in natives than in Europeans. A few
years afterwards, as the tide of suspicion again rose,
whole battalions of these fine fellows were discharged,
and driven for bread into the enemy's ranks. Again
the Golundauze were increased, and again reduced.
Sometimes mixed up with Europeans, at other times
placed on their old formation. Then, again, Lascars
were largely employed, good fellows in their way, but
not to be put on a par with, still less in the place of,
Golundauze. These unnecessary changes, and, above
all, the reduction of pay to the level of infantry, have
afiected the confidence and the efficiency of the Golun-
dauze. The same style of men are not now enlisted in
* See Broome's, Buckle's, and Begbie's volumes.


any Presidency as formerly ; and should Grolundanze be
again required in a hurry, they will not be as easily
recruited as of old. In all Native armies the artillery
are the best and trustiest men. They are always true
to their guns ; they worship them. But artillerymen
are not made in a day, nor is it either prudent or econo-
mical to teach sepoys to work guns in substitution for
short numbers of Golundauze. The latter can better
and more safely do infantry duty than infantry theirs.
Serving the vent, sponging and ramming are only the
A. B. C.'s of an artilleryman's work. But under any
circumstances, when Golundauze and sepoys are paid at
exactly the same rates, why put extra temptation in the
way of the larger body ? A thousand Golundauze cost
no more than as many sepoys. The more is the pity.
They should be taught to consider themselves a separate
■and selected body. No sepoy should touch a gun. The
Golundauze should be in numbers amply sufficient for
all post guns, with large reserves to take their share in
siege operations.* Their number should not exceed the
European artillery, but, whatever the number and pro-
portions, let the Golundauze receive the one extra rupee.
It would be good economy. We repeat that our arrange-
ments are for the storm as well as the sunshine — for the
possibility of a Eussian army at Herat, simultaneously
with an American fleet off Bombay. But, whether in
peace or in war, the more the several arms are kept
apart, the better. Perpetual ordinary caution in this
matter, as on other points, prevents occasional spas-
modic alarms, which alarms again put mischief into
men's minds.

* The reserve artillerymen are successive nights. At Sobraon, the

altogether insufficient. At every men of three troops worked the

siege from Scringapatam to Mooltan heavy ordnance until their ammuni-

artiUcrymen were in battery two tion was expended, and then joined

nights out of three, often many their own six-pounders. — H. M. L.


The fame of the Indian artillery is world-wide ; there
is no finer. The Bombay men are not behind their Ben-
gal and Madras comrades in esprit de corps or soldierly
qualities. Why does not some Bombay artilleryman
follow the example set by Captain Buckle and Major
Begbie, and record the services of his regiment ? Such
compilations are valuable. Indeed every corps should
have its history. What better stimulus to the young
soldier than to read the record of his brethren's services ?
Such memorials, too, would tend to draw together officers
and sepoys. In the regimental ^' Tuwareekh" they would
have something in common; the honour of the corps
•would then be more palpably in the keeping of each
individual. No deed of personal bravery of the youngest
sepoy or drummer boy would pass unrecorded. Each
might hope to live in history.

The Bengal army is largely indebted to Major Broome
for his excellent history. Its tone is admirable and its
painstaking research most praiseworthy. We sincerely
hope the Major is at work on its continuation, and that
the three armies will at least take as many copies as
will cover his expenses. It is not creditable to any
regiment to be without his first volume ; nor could any
person desiring to acquaint himself with early British-
Indian history have a better or more impartial guide.

Engineers and sappers, even more than artillery, ought
to be kept in full strength. Sappers are not used in
public works to the extent they might be. The men
should not have the disbursement of public money, but
should be liberally rewarded according to their zeal and
abilities, as sappers are, when employed in England on
the trigonometrical survey, &c. By such peace duties
engineer officers, sergeants, and native sappers are kept
in training, and, while largely aiding the works of peace,
are preparing themselves for war.



A few words on the calling of military engineers at
the three Presidencies. In war their duties are impor-
tant, and in sieges they are the virtual commanders.
It was the joke of the camp how Cheape kept the
nominal commander at Mooltan informed, from day to
day, of the work he intended should be performed.
Irvine's, Abbott's, Waddington's, Smith's, Napier's,
Baker's, Tremenhere's, Scott's, Durand's, and Thomson's
services, during recent campaigns, are in the memory of
our readers. Still more valuable are the services of such
men during peace. A Cotton, a Boileau, a Napier, or a
Cautley, is worth a brigade. This is the only portion
of the army ihsii pai/s at all seasons. So few civil'
engineers of ability consider it worth their while to
come to India, that all civil engineering is virtually in
the hands of the military. We are not quite clear that
this is the best arrangement^ but under improved manage-
ment it may be made very much more effective than at

Promotion has recently been good in the Engineers.
In the higher ranks they are nearly ten years a-head of
their sister corps — ^the Artillery ; but they are still nume-
rically weak for the work required at their hands. The
consequence is, that there is more poaching on their
domain than on any other. The artillery, with reason,
scream when people even talk of posting infantry officers
to field batteries ; but the engineers obtain little sym-
pathy when some of their best berths are monopolized
by outsiders. Nor, indeed, should we pity them were
better men put over their heads — were Cautleys, Max-
wells, Prices, Balfours, and Longdens to be had for the
asking ; but such is not the case. By all means let the
best man be selected for every berth in every depart-
ment ; but be sure he is the best, before trained and
able men are superseded. Far be it from us to join the


cuckoo-cry in favour of individuals. There are plenty,
without our aid, to advocate the cause of the incompetent;
our voice is for " the right man in the right place/'

Engineer officers are the elite of the service. They
are the selections, and generally very fair selections, from
the mass of Addiscomhe. The energies of many are,
however, damped by the treatment they meet in India.
They win the race, but obtain not the prizes. The latter
are too often reserved for the sluggard and the incompe-
tent. Few engineer officers would select the engineer
corps for their own sons.

Great pains are taken at home to qualify the young
engineer officers for the important and arduous duties
which they are called upon to perform in India. The
great error, however, is in so calling on them at too
early a period after arrival. This may, in a measure,
account for cracked and broken bridges, for unfinished
and ill-made roads, and for high rates. While yet
apprentices, and while ignorant of the rudiments of the
language and of civil routine, they have heavy respon-
sibilities thrown on them, and are put to deal with the
veriest rogues in India.

Every young engineer officer, on arrival in India,
should be sent to the head-quarters of the Sappers and
Miners, now also the head-quarters of the corps ; and
he should not be withdrawn on any grounds or pretence
until he had passed at least one year of probation with
the corps ; had attended the schools regularly, and been
well instructed in the technical language and practice
of sapper-engineering duties as conducted in India.
Most young officers could, during this year of probation,
pass the P. H. examination, and this should be made a
sine qua non for their employment in any independent
substantive charge. The rule is enforced with regard
to officers of other branches of the services appointed

F F 2


to the staff, and it is only fair and proper that the same
rule should be extended to the alumni of the engineer
department. Few young oflB.cers, when they have once
quitted the sappers, after their few months' sojourn
with the corps, ever rejoin it, unless, perhaps, oil
active service in the field. Thus, unless grounded in
the vernacular phraseology of their craft, and instructed,
on their first arrival, in the various processes of their
duties, as conducted in India, it is perfectly certain that
they will not acquire these very important and necessary
qualifications in after-life ; while as huilders and civil
engineers, their talents will remain hidden, or lose half
their value, until a competent knowledge of the verna-
cular language shall enable them to communicate their
knowledge in language intelligible to the people of the
country. Our advice is, thus to instruct them well, then
to trust them largely, and pay them liberally.

The abolition of the Bengal and Bombay Military
Boards was a grand measure. But the rubbish has not
yet been all cleared away. Commissary-generals, in-
spector-generals of ordnance, and chief engineers must
have more authority; must each respectively be put
into a position assimilating more to that of the old
Boards than each now fills, before the new system can
be expected to work smoothly. Chief engineers must
not be made mere postmen and clerks to local governors.
They are the most scientific and among the ablest and
most zealous officers in the service. Their positions
should be of high honour, considerable authority, and
great comfort. At present this is far from the case.
The sooner the matter is righted the better. We com-
mend the subject, as also the following anecdote, to the
attention of the Secretary in the Public Works Depart-
ment. We might tell many such tales.

Some three years back, a sanatory measure urgently


recommended by a medical officer, involving an ex-
pense of six hundred rupees, was reported. The im-
mediate superior, a person of high rank, authorized
the measure, and the local officer carried it out. Sanc-
tion was quickly obtained from the Supreme Govern-
ment ; but a greater than Lord Dalhousie, the auditor-
general, had not been consulted. A few words in red
ink, negatived his lordship's order, and the bill was
made over to the Military Board. After many months
the Board passed and sent it to the military accountant
for adjustment. In due course, the cash was paid.
After a considerable interval, however, the military
auditor- general again interfered, and retrenched the
full amount. Again was the matter referred to the
Supreme Government, which passed it on to the Local
Government, and after six months more it was finally
sanctioned, and the retrenchment recovered through the
local chief engineer. Thus, during more than two
years, some forty official letters had been written, and
innumerable copies been made for one authority or an-

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 35 of 39)