Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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means, independent of the legitimate channel, for ac-
quainting himself with what was going on in his
front and on his flanks. The exertions of Major
Garden are well known; and if he had been shot, as
he possibly might have been any morning, the Bengal
Division at least would have been without a Quarter-
Master- General's Department. Colonel Wild, it is
well known, was sent in December, 1841, on perhaps
as difficult and hazardous an undertaking as has, for


many years, been entrusted to an officer of Ms rank ;
with four Eegiments of Native Infantry and one hun-
dred Irregular Cavalry; a Company of Grolundauze
without guns, and one of Sappers (the two latter
being under officers of less than two years' standing),
and without staff of any kind — Quarter-Master- Grene-
ral's, or Commissariat Department. A regimental
officer was for the occasion appointed brigade-major;
and with him began and ended the staff of Brigadier
"Wild, who, had he had half a dozen guns and as many
good staff officers, might have reached Jellalabad early
in January, 1842; and have thereby, perhaps, averted
the final catastrophe at Cabul. To this it may be
added, that two days before the battle of Maharajpore,
extra establishments were ordered for officers in the

These are recent instances of defects in our military
organization, and misapplication of the means at our dis-
posal ; but the experience of our military readers will
tell them, each in his own line and from his own re-
miniscences, how often an apparently trifling deficiency
has vitiated the exertions of a detachment. Only last
December, or January (1843-44), all Oude was alarmed
by the report of a Nepalese invasion, and then indi-
viduals were called upon to lend horses to move the
guns at Lucknow; and scarce twelve months before,
when a small party was beaten at Khytul in the Seikh
States within forty or fifty miles of Kurnaul, — one of
our Army Division stations — it was three days before
a small force could move ; it was then found that there
was no small-arm ammunition in store, and ascertained
that a European corps could not move under a fortnight
from Sobathoo.

At that time, when both Kurnaul and Ambala were
denuded of troops ; and every road was covered with


crowds of armed pilgrims returning from the Hurd-
war Fair; the two treasuries containing, we have
heard, between them, not less than thirty lakhs of
rupees, were under parties of fifty sepoys in exposed
houses or rather sheds close to the Native towns;
and, extraordinary as it may appear, both within fifty
or a hundred yards of small forts in which they would
have been comparatively safe; but into which, during
the long years that treasuries have been at those
stations, it seems never to have occurred to the autho-
rities to place them.

The treasury at Delhi is in the city, as is the maga-
zine; the latter is in a sort of fort, — a very defence-
less building, outside of which in the street, we under-
stand, a party of sepoys was placed, when the news
of the Cabul disasters arrived. We might take a
circuit of the country and show how many mistakes
we have committed, and how much impunity has em-
boldened us in error; and how unmindful we have
been that what occurred in the city of Cabul, may,
some day, occur at Delhi, Benares, or Bareilly.

It needs not our telling that improvements are
required in the Commissariat. We observe that Eamjee
Mull, who was a man of straw in the department
at Bhurtpoor in 1824, died at Delhi, the other day,
worth twenty -four lakhs of rupees ; and not long since
one of the Calcutta papers gave a biographical sketch
of Mr. Eeid, who in 1838 was a hungry omedwar,
and in 1843 died worth about two lakhs of rupees,
having been in the receipt of a salary amounting to
perhaps one hundred and fifty or two hundred rupees
per month. We recollect being amused by the naive
expression that his gains were all honestly made.
It is just possible that Eamjee Mull's were so : but
we look on it as something highly improper that Mr.

E 2


Eeid, a salaried public servant, should have made
anything beyond his pay. He took contracts, but
he should not have been allowed to do so; and in
taking them he was only entering into partnership
with Native Gromashtahs or Principals, such as Eamjee
Mull, Doonee Chund, &c., who, by combining,- raised
their charges on Grovernment; and it is clear that, in
so participating or even in being a contractor on his
own bottom, he became useless as an assistant to the
Commissariat officer in checking fraud on the part
of other subordinates.

We have repeatedly seen the charge of a batch of
camels on ten rupees per month preferred by an in-
dolent Mootusuddee to a quiet one of thirty or forty
rupees; the inference is, that they have a percentage
on the grain of the animals; and so it is throughout
the establishment; and low rates of pay only are au-
thorized. Commissariat officers are actually in the
powder of their subordinates ; they have not the means
of paying respectable men, and being generally called
on suddenly, they are, in self-defence, thrown on their
monied dependants or hangers-on.

The whole establishment requires reform. The few
European officers are now no check on the subordi-
nates ; they are, indeed, often screens ; and it some-
times occurs that a gentleman-like, inexperienced officer,
considers it a personal offence to have it proved that his
gomashta watered the grog, or served out short grain.
Commissariat officers should be carefully chosen, and
should then be armed with sufficient authority to do
their duty efficiently. They have now just power
enough to do harm — none to do good, unless they are
bold enough to risk their own prospects, and even cha-
racter. A commissariat officer may easily starve an
army and yet bear no blame ; but if he saves a detach-


meiit from starvation and loses liis vouchers, or, under
extreme dijficulties, if lie lias failed to procure them, he
is a ruined man. Oh, how much more in this, as in
every other, department, are forms looked to rather
than realities ; and how much does Government seem
to prefer heing robhed according to the usual forms,
than to act on the plain principles of common sense
that would actuate the same Government taken indi-
vidually instead of in its collective character !

But we must draw our remarks to a conclusion, first
briefly recapitulating our recommendations : —

1st. To increase the Engineer regiment, and to make
it the nucleus of a General Staff Corps, available in
peace for all Civil Engineering operations — giving all
ranks opportunities to qualify themselves for field
duties, and by having acquired intimate acquaintance
with the language, habits, and manners of the people,
and the features of the country ; by giving them habits
of enquiry, and practice in such duties as they may be
called on to perform during war.

An immediate increase to the Engineers might be
made by volunteers from the Line and Artillery — all
ranks of such volunteers passing an examination in
the requisite scientific points. They might then, ac-
cording to standing, be drafted into the present Engi-
neer corps, or form a new regiment of two, three, or
more battalions.

We advocate the more eifficient officering of the Eoot
Artillery, its elevation to an equality with the Horse
Artillery — -or at least that the latter should not be
unduly cared for to the neglect of the former.

The Eegular Cavalry should have some smart Euro-
pean dragoons attached to each troop ; the Irregulars
should be paid in all cases the full twenty rupees per
month ; bargeers not being admitted, unless in the case


of Native officers, who might each be allowed to have
their own sons or nephews (failing sons) as bargeers ; but
their number should be limited to four to each officer.

We further desire that some regiments of Irregular
Cavalry, and some of Native Infantry, should be com-
manded and officered by Natives, and placed in brigade
under Europeans.

"We would fain see the army, year after year, more
carefully weeded of incapables. Age should no longer
be the qualification for promotion ; jemadars and sooba-
dars should either be pensioned at their homes, or be
real and effective lieutenants and captains. We have
shown how the deserving old soldier, unqualified to be
an officer, may be provided for by being allowed to
return to his home as a havildar, on completion of his
service. Our army being, in relation to the country it
has to defend, a small one, it requires that every man
should be effective; its subalterns and Native officers
should not be hoary-headed invalids, but young and
active men, and its field officers and commanders should
not be worn-out valetudinarians. We need hardly say
that, gallantly as the army has ever behaved, and much
as it has done, more might often have been effected, at
less expense of life and treasure, if a few years could
have been taken from the ages of all ranks. We have
all experience before us in proof that great military
achievements have been generally performed by young
armies, under young leaders ; Hannibal and Napoleon
had conquered Italy before they could have been brevet
captains in the Company's army ; at as early an age the
victories of Caesar were gained, and at an equally early
age Alexander had conquered the world. Forty years
ago the victories of the Great Duke were gained in
India, and happily he is still (1844) at the head of the
British army ; and we doubt if the ages of aU the gene-


rals commanding divisions under Wellington, or against
him, in the Peninsula, would amount, in the aggregate,
to the ages of an equal number of captains of the Ben-
gal army ; and this, be it remembered, in a climate
where Europeans are old men at forty ; and where, as
there are but few of us, those few should be of the
right sort, and full of energy, mental and physical.

The location in strength of Europeans in the Hills —
having good roads and carriage by land and water for
at least a portion of them always ready — -is another of
our schemes ; as it is also our hearty desire to see the
commissioned ranks of the army opened to them, and
hope no longer shut out from the inmates of the bar-
racks. The better education of European children, and
colonization on a small scale, under restrictions, is a
part of this scheme.

The attachment of Native Companies to European
Eegiments as posts of honour, or, at any rate, the per-
manent brigading of different classes of troops, seems to

^us highly desirable, as likely to enhance the good feel-
ing of all, improve the tone of the sepoys and softe]^
the asperities of Europeans.

The greater mixture of classes in our Native army
^we" also hold to be desirable, so as never to g ive a
designing Brahmin the opportunity of misleadi ng a

" wholeregmicnt. Instant and full enquiry into every
case of discontent or disaffection we hold to be of vital
moment — no glossing over to save individual feelings
or what is wrongly considered to save the credit of the
service. No army in the world has been at all times
without taint ; but where insubordination or dictation
once was permitted — or donatives resorted to, where
summary punishment should have been inflicted — that
army soon mastered their Government.

We would make the Staff of the army, in all its


l)ranches, efficient ^ keep it so and practise it, while
opportunity offers during peace, so that it may he
always ready for war. We would have a haggage
train ; and precise orders that should he obeyed as to the
amount of carriage and servants and camp-followers,
which under all circumstances on service should accom-
pany our armies. We should not take mohs of hangers-
on, or the luxuries of the capital, into the field ; and it
should he understood to he as much the duty of all
ranks to ohey orders in such matters, as in doing their
duty when actually under fire.

We can see many advantages in having the three
armies of Bengal, Madras, and Bomhay, united into one
Indian army, having one Commander-in-Chief and one
(ieneral Staff; having rates of pay, equipments, and all
^else as far as possible, assimilated; and having /o/^r
^Commanders of the Forces with subordinate Major-
ffeherals, all having sufficient authority to order and
finally dispose of many matters of detail that now go to
Army Head- quarters, and some that cannot now be
there settled, with the power of bringing up the bulk
of the Madras Cavalry and a portion of their other
branches to our North- West Provinces ; while the
Bengal Presidency might send down a few Native
Infantry Eegiments to the central stations — all being
on the same footing as to pay and batta, &c. Much
good would thus accrue to the service. Emulation
betw^een the natives of different provinces would be
[excited and^^^ie^^nger of combination be greatly les-
sened. .>

We have necessarily but glanced at the various
branches of our noble army. We have not forgotten
our own deep personal interest in its honour and wel-
fare ; but as we hold that our presence in India depends,
in no small measure, on the contentedness and happi-


ness of our native soldiery, we have prominently put
forth what has long been our opinion, that something
more is wanted for the sepoy than that at the age of
sixty he should, by possibility, reach the rank of Suba-
dar Major, and with it the first class of Sirdar Bahadoor.
Doubtless such hope and expectation is sufficient to
influence nine out of ten of our sepoys ; but it is for
the tenth we want a stimulus; for the man of better
education, the superior character, the bold and daring
spirit that disdains to live for ever in subordinate place ;
and it is for such we firmly believe that is absolutely
required some new grade Avhere, without our risking the
supremac}^ of European authority, he may obtain com-
mand and exert in our behalf those energies and talents
which under the present system are too liable to be
brought into the scale against us. Commands of Irre-
gular Corps, Jagheers, titles, civil honours, pensions to
the second and third generation, are among the
measures we would advocate for such characters ; while
we would give the invalid pensions, at earlier periods
and under increased advantages, to men who had dis-
tinguished themselves in the field or by any peculiar
merit in quarters. For all such and such only there
should be medals and orders, and not for whole regi-
ments who may have happened to be in the field on
a particular day.

Much reform is required in the Native Army, but
still more in the European branch of the service. The
system of terror has long enough been tried and been
found w^anting; the system that filled the American
navy with British sailors and drove the flower of the
French army into the ranks of their enemies, and that
daily drives many Europeans in India, who under dif-
ferent circumstances might turn out good soldiers, to


suicide, and to the liigh road, should at once be ex-
ploded. Under a better regime our Europeans, instead
of enacting the part of highwaymen, might be rendered
as available to purposes of peace as of war, and be as
well conducted during one period as another. With
commissions open to the ablest, and subordinate staff
employment after certain periods to all the well-
behaved ; with aids to study and to rational amusement
in barracks, instead of eternal drills, whose beginning
and end is to torment and disgust men with a noble
service, how much might be done with the materials at
our command, and how much would our Grovernment
be strengthened and the value of every individual
European's services be enhanced !

To raise men from the ranks, we feel, will be con-
sidered a terrible innovation, but we have not ourselves
as a body of officers been so long emancipated from de-
grading restrictions that we should not have some fellow-
feeling for our brother soldiers. Argument is not re-
quired in the matter ; common sense dictates the mea-
sure. All history teaches its practicability ; the Eoman
Legionary, nay the barbarian auxiliary, lived to lead the
armies of the empire ; almost every one of Napoleon's
marshals rose from the ranks, and at this day and with
all the preventions of aristocracy and moneyed interests,
scarcely less than a fifth of Her Majesty's army, is
officered by men who rose from the ranks. Indeed,
since this paper was commenced we have observed not
less than six stafP-serjeants promoted to Ensigncies,
Adjutancies, or Quarter- Masterships in a single gazette;
but it is reserved to the army of a Company of merchants
that her sentinels should be blackballed — should be
driven with the lash instead of led by consideration and
common sense.


Wonderful indeed is it, that this subject should have
been left for our advocacy, and that, situated as we are
in the midst of a mighty military population, we should
fail to see the necessity — the common prudence — of
turning our handful of Europeans to the best advantage ;
and that while we foster the Native, we degrade our
own countrymen. ^ Drive away hope from the former,
make transportation, or death, a boon — a haven to the
heart-broken or desperate sepoy ; and then see whether
the lash will be required in the Native army as well as
the European. We would not abate a jot of discipline
with the one or the other ; each should be taught his
duty thoroughly, which at present he seldom is : he
should be a good marksman or swordsman according to'
the branch of his service, and until he is master of his
weapon, he should be kept at drill ; but there should be
no after drill and parades to hee;p men out of miscldef —
to disgust them with their duty. They should have as
much of exercise and instruction as should keep them
practised and able soldiers, and their lives should be
rendered happy, that they might remain willing and
contented ones. The lash should be reserved for mutiny,
desertion, and plunder — for Natives, as well as Europeans
— and while the worthless and incorrigible are thus
dealt with according to their deserts, the indifferent
soldier should be encouraged to become a good one ; and
the best be rewarded according to their abilities by pro-
motion to the non-commissioned Staff, and the commis-
sioned ranks ; and by comfortable provision in old age
in chmates suited to their constitution.

We cannot expect to hold India for ever. Let us so
conduct ourselves in our civil and military relations as
when the connection ceases, it may do so, not with con-
vulsions, but with, mutual es teem and affection^ and



that England may then have in India a noble ally, en-
lightened and brought into the scale of nations under
her guidance and fostering care.

Note. — In an article on the mili-
tary defence of the country, it is
obvious that some detailed notice
ghould have been taken of so im-
portant a j)oint, as the means of
rapid locomotion. We had not over-
looked it; but the subject is too in-
teresting and too important to be
lightly touched upon in a rough de-
sultory article, like the foregoing,
which aspires not to teach but to
suggest. A small force, which can
be moved, at an hour's notice, from
one part of the country to another,
with a celerity that will disconcert
the measures of an enemy — be the
hostile demonstration from without
or within — is of more real service in
the defence of the country, than an
overgrown, cumbrous army, which
cannot be put in motion without
much difficulty and much delay. To
attain this great end, it is not only
necessary that our troops should be
prepared to move, but that they
should have good roads along which
to move. Now roads and bridges — •
we are uttering but a trite common-
place — are excellent things, not only

as they strengthen our position, but
as they conduce to the prosperity of
the country — they are blessings to
all, and no mean part of the real
wealth of a nation. In a military
point of view they are of incalcu-
lable value ; and when the country
is not only intersected with good
roads, but boasts of at least one
railroad along the main line, from
the sea to the nor-western boun-
dary; when our rivers are spanned
at the most important points with
bridges, and ever alive with magic
steamships, then will it be found
that our army of a quarter of a mil-
lion is equal, in real strength, to an
army of a million of men ; and that,
with this facihty of transporting
troops and stores to any given point
— of concentrating a large army,
with all the muniments of war, in a
few hours — we have acquired an
amount of military strength, the
mere prestige of which will be suf-
ficient to overawe our enemies, and
to secure an enduring and honom^-
able peace.


[written in 1845.]

No portion of India has been more discussed in
England than Oude. Affghanistan and the Punjab
are modern questions, but, for half a century, country
gentlemen have been possessed of a vague idea of a
province of India, nominally independent in its home
relations, but periodically used as a wet nurse to
relieve the difficulties of the East India Company's
finances.* The several attacks that were made on
Warren Hastings, Lord Wellesley, and the Marquis
of Hastings, have all served to keep up the interest
of the Oude question. Scarcely had the case of the
plundered Begums and flagellated eunuchs been decided,
and the folios of evidence elicited by Warren Hastings'
trial been laid before the public, than proceedings
scarcely less voluminous appeared regarding the ter-
ritorial cessions extorted by Lord Wellesley. These
were followed in turn by attacks on Lord Hastings'
loan measures, with the several vindications of his
Lordship's policy. We are among those unfashionable
people who consider that politics and morals can never
be safely separated; that an honest private individual

* « The King of Oude's Sauce " « Man for Galway " tells us that
has found its way into London " The King of Oude is mighty
shops, and even Charles O'Malley'a proud."


must necessarily be an honest oiB&cial, and vice versa;
but we confess tbat we have been staggered by a study
of Oude transactions. Most assuredly Warren Hastings,
Lord Teignmoutb, Lord Wellesley, Lord Hastings, and
Lord Auckland would never have acted in private
life, as they did in the capacity of Grovernors towards
prostrate Oude. Lord W. Bentinck, and Lords Corn-
wallis, Minto, and Ellenborough, appear to have been
the only Grovernors-Greneral who did not take advantage
of the weakness of that country to dismember it or
increase its burdens.

The earhest offender against Oude was Warren
Hastings. Mr. Gleig undertakes to give a true and
correct picture of Mr. Hastings' private character and
public administration. With the former we have here
nothing to do, beyond remarking that the very lax
morality of the clerical biographer, when treating of
domestic life, vitiates his testimony, and renders his
judgment on questions of public justice valueless.
Mr. Gleig' s theory, moreover, that the wrong which
is done for the public good is a justifiable wrong,
tends to upset the whole doctrine of Eight. When
he vindicates his hero by asserting that, " if Mr. Hast-
ings was corrupt, it was to advance the interests of
England that he practised his corruption," and proceeds
in a similar strain, of what he seems to consider ex-
culpation, he asperses the illustrious person he would
defend, far more than do Mr. Hastings' worst enemies.
We have a higher opinion of Hastings than his bio-
grapher appears to have had, but we have a very
different opinion from that of Mr. Gleig regarding
the duty of a Governor- General. Thorough-going
vindication, such as Mr. Gleig' s, does far more injury
to the memory of a sagacious and far-seeing, though
unscrupulous, ruler like Warren Hastings, than all


the vehement denunciations of Mill the historian.
Oude affords but a discreditable chapter in our Indian
annals, and furnishes a fearful warning of the lengths
to which a statesman may be carried, when once he

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 5 of 39)