Herbert B. (Herbert Benjamin) Edwardes.

A year on the Punjab frontier, in 1848-49 (Volume 2) online

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IN 1848-9.



IN 1848-49.





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Gives a sketch of the past history of the Province of Mooltan ;
its extent and condition under the Sikhs, and the origin
of the rebellion of Dewan Moolraj .... 1


The messenger of evil tidings — Mr. Vans Agnew's call for
help — A plan fixed and an ally chosen — Account of Foujdar
Khan — Letter to the Resident at Lahore announcing these
events — Reply to Mr. Vans Agnew, promising assistance —
The Author justifies his own interference — March from
Dera Futteh Khan — Passage of the Indus — Melancholy
accident — Story of the Mooltan outbreak — March to Leia —
Importance of the city — News of the death of the British
officers at Mooltan — Letter to the Resident reporting that
occurrence — Arrangements for recovering the frontier from
the rebels — Letter to the Resident reporting progress of
both sides — Moolraj sends the fiery cross over the Indus,
and the Author prepares for defence — Two communications
from Mooltan — Letter to the Resident concerning the rebel
manifesto, and the Futteh Pultun's bond of fidehty — A
Sikh spy and friendly warnings of Sikh treachery — Letter
to the Resident reporting these suspicions — To the same on


Moolraj sending an army against tiie Author — To the same
reporting retreat of the Author before superior force —
Uitiicuhy of recrossing the Indus with unfaithful troops —
The Author bought and sokl — Some Sikh soldiers propose
to make a Sikh of him — How the passage was effected —
Signal guns tired and answered by both foes and friends —
Arrival of General Cortlandt with reinforcements . 73


The threshold question of the war answered, why a British
army did not take the field at once — On the first news of
the Mooltan outbreak, Sir F. Currie sends a Sikh force to
put it down — Hearing next of the attack on the Eedgah,
lie resolves to add a British brigade, and calls on General
Whish to dis])atch one — News arrives of the death of Agnew
aud Anderson — The Resident countermands the British
force, and informs the Sikh Government that they must
put down Moolraj themselves ■ — The Sikhs declare their
iuabihty — The Resident represents to the Commander-in-
Chief the political necessity of a British army reducing
Mooltan without delay, but refers it as a military question
to Lord Gough — Lord Gough decides against it — Sir
Charles Napier coincides in the opinion of his predecessor —
Lord Dalhousie sums up the argument, adopts the responsi-
bility, and maintains the wisdom of the decision — The
Author shows that it was providential, and that a second
Sikh war was unavoidable . . , . . 14o


General Cortlaudt ascertains the disloyalty of the Sikhs in
camp— -The spies' report of the rebel force — Conclusions
(h-awn from it— Change of ground — Enlistment goes on


iu both camps — Moolraj recals his army from Leia to
Mooltan — the Author re-occupies Leia with a picket — An
Ambassador from Mooh-aj — His double mission — He de-
mands a fair trial for Moolraj, and declares the intention
of the Mooltanee Puthans to withdraw from the rebellion —
His account of the rebellion — He is dismissed with two
guarantees — Motives and character of Dewan Moolraj . 179


Orders arrive from the Resident to remain Trans- Indus —
The Resident's plan for blockading Mooltan by five con-
verging columns, of which the fifth under command of the
Author — The fort of Mungrota obtained without a struggle
— The Author again plans the recovery of the Sindh Sagur
Doiib, and suggests the propriety of threatenmg Mooltan
vrith the army of Bhawulpoor — Moolraj's army again
advances up the Sindh Sagur Doab — General Cortlandt is
reinforced by a faithful regiment of regular infantry, but is
startled with intelligence that the rebels have crossed in
force between him and Dera Ghazee Khan — The rebel van
attacks the royal picket in Leia, and is gallantly defeated
with the loss of its artillery — The Author takes on himself
the responsibility of calling on the Nuwab of Bhawulpoor
to cross the Sutlej — Measures concerted with General
Cortlandt for resisting the rebels, who were said to have
crossed Trans-Indus ; but hearing more certainly that the
crossing was not yet effected, the Author, by a forced march
of fifty miles, occupies the intended ferry, and challenges
the enemy with a salute — The Author now volunteers to
blockade Moolraj in Mooltan if the Nuwab of Bhawulpoor
is given him for an ally — Mutinous conduct of Sikh troops
at Dera Ishmael Khan — Moolraj's Governor at Ghazee


Khan intrenches himself with five hundred men to resist
the royal troops — The Khosuhs, a loyal tribe of Beloochees,
rise, attack, and defeat him after a desperate fight, and
obtam possession of the city, fort, and rebel fleet — The
Khosuhs are rewarded by both the Sikh and British
Governments ....... 203


The capture of Ghazee Khan, and especially the mode of it,
gratifying to Government — Reluctance of four of the con-
verging columns to converge — The Resident still relies on
them, and dispenses with the Author — Difficulty of commu-
nication the true cause of personal responsibility — Failure
of the four columns again predicted — The enemy disappears
from Oodoo Kee Kote, and Cortlandt occupies Ghazee Khan
— Curious scheme of Dewan Moolraj's for a Trans-Indus
sovereignty — The Author suppresses an injudicious order
of the Durbar to remit revenue in Moolraj's country —
Rebel army re-appears at Koreyshee, and the Author joins
General Cortlandt at Ghazee Khan — Beauty and fertility of
that place — A Kardar of Moolraj's holds out in the fort of
Ilurrund, and is summoned to surrender — Muhommudan
excesses after capture of Ghazee Khan — Royalists increase,
rebels desert — Muhommudan population rise on a rebel
Kiirdiir — The disaffected Futteh Pultun sent on service —
Bhawul Khan inquires for his allies, and the Author again
volunteers — The Author's plan of blockade explained — The
Bhawulpoor army crosses the Sutlej, and calls on Author
to co-operate — The Author solicits a carte blanche —
The rebel Kdrdar in Hurrimd refuses in verse to surrender
— British stores seized on the Sutlej — Collision between
rebel and royal detachments at Alipoor — The Author


moves his force down to the Indus — Daoodpotras move on
Shoojabad — The Resident allows the Author to cross the
Indus, but not the Chenab — Moostapha Khan at last
reports the result of his embassy — Martial ardour of the
Author's levies — Lieutenant Taylor's generous reinforce-
ment — The quiet of Bunnoo attributed to him — Moolraj's
army ask leave to retire from the Indus — The Daoodpotra
General hesitates to advance — The Resident at last gives
up the Durbar and their armies, adopts the blockade pro-
posed by the Author, and appoints Lieutenant Lake to
direct the Dsioodpotra army — Tribute to that officer's public
spirit 253


The Resident sends a carte blanche to the Author to act
on his own discretion — Moolraj withdraws his army from
the Indus, and the same day the Author crosses that river —
Arrangements for the country left behind — Moolraj con-
centrates his strength on Shoojabad — The Author directs
the Daoodpotras to concentrate — The Daoodpotra General
refuses to advance without the Author — The Resident
recommended to send another Assistant to that camp — The
Author justifies his hasty passage of the Indus — Moolraj's
Puthan officers again urge his surrender — Love of life keeps
him in rebellion — The Churunjeet regiment of Sikh cavalry
joins the rebels — The Author recals Lieutenant Taylor from
Bunnoo, and appoints a native Governor in his place — The
Resident describes the state of the Sikh army — The Author
marches from the Indus to the Chenab — Moolraj orders
his army to fight the Daoodpotras before the Author joins
— The Author hastens to prevent it, and receives on the
bank of the Chenab the Resident's permission to cross it —


Relative positions of the forces of the Author, his aUies,
and the enemy on the 17th of June — Movements of all
three upon Kineyree — The Author crosses the Chenab
on the 1 8th of June, as the battle of Kineyree opens — The
battle ......... 333


Picking up the pieces after a fight — Contrast betvpeen a camp
with doctors and a camp without — The pride of wounded
men — Shoojabad surrendered — Praise of Peer Ibraheem
Khan — Censure of his colleague, the Daoodpotra General —
Anecdote of his history — The army advances to Shoojabad —
Its strength — Puthans desert Moolraj — The Author offers
to undertake the siege of Mooltan if heavy guns are sup-
plied him — Mr. Quin joins the army — News of Lieutenant
Lake's arrival at Bhawulpoor — Sympathy of the large towns
writh Moolraj's cause — A steamer ordered to co-operate on
the Chenab — Bhaee Maharaj Sing re-appears at Mooltan,
though believed to have been drowned in the Chenab —
Evil reports of Rajah Sher Sing's force — Moolraj again
oiFers to surrender if his life is guaranteed — The fort of
Secunderabad surrenders — Sheikh Emamoodeen and Jowahir
Mull Dutt offer to join the Author — 111 news from every
side — Advance to Adee Walluh Bagh — Distrust of all Sikhs
at this crisis — Lieutenant Lake's timely arrival — Advance
to Sooruj Kooud — More disclosures from Sher Sing's force
— Consultation as to best position before Mooltan — Sheikh
Emamoodeen joins the army with his division — The augurs
fix an auspicious day for Moolraj to fight — He fights and
is defeated — The battle of Suddoosam — The Daoodpotra
General congratulates Lake, and his men demand a receipt
in full — Contrast between Kineyree and Suddoosam —


Equestrian vicissitudes — Sadik Muhommud Khan is trusted,
and proves true — How to keep your head cool in a fight —
The rebels decline to fight again, and get behind their walls
— A false alarm loses a right hand — An apothecary sews it
up with a packing needle, and a friend sits on it — Barbarous
surgery of the camp — Gholam Surwur Khan — Doctor Cole
gets many patients and as many friends . . .405


A summary of previous operations — Was it, or was it not,
well to follow theai up with the siege of Mooltan ? — The
Author's proposition for that siege, and the plan that was
preferred — The consequent delay, and how Moolraj turned
it to account — Opinions of INIajor Napier, Sir F. Currie,
Lord Gough, Lord Dalhousie, and Sir J. Littler, as to
undertaking the siege after the battle of Kineyree — Sir F.
Currie resolves on the siege on hearing of Suddoosam — His
reasons, political and military — The Author's disbelief of a
Punjab conspiracy before the rebellion of Moolraj — Patriotic
replies of Lords Dalhousie and Gough to the Resident's
announcement of a siege — The Author in hospital — A
sinister protest against human dexterity — A young volun-
teer — Nights at mess — How Rajah Slier Sing came to
Mooltan — The state of his army and Moolraj's — Demon-
strations of both — Moolraj attempts to poison Sher Sing —
The ringleader blown from a gun — Execution of Longa
Mull — A metting in Bunnoo suppressed by Futteh Khan,
Towannuh — -Another of the Futteh Pultun, at Ilurrund,
suppressed by Nassur Khan, Populzye — Moolraj's emissary
to Cabul caught at Peshawur and hanged — Sirdar Chuttur
Sing's rebellion in Huzaruh — The Author justifies Major
Abbott — Rajah Sher Sing's efforts to save his family aiul


country — The Irregular and Sher Sing's armies exchange
positions — Incendiary letters from Huzaruh — The Author
encourages the Rajah to be firm — Moolraj attacks General
Whish in his bed, and the Irregulars at dinner, and is de-
feated in both places . . . . . .481


Strength and route of General Whish' s army — Strength of
Irregular corps before Mooltan — Strength of Moolraj —
Irregulars change ground on the 1st of September — Skir-
mish at Kuttee Byragee — General Whish reconnoitres —
The Irregular camp is found to be under fire, but is main-
tained — The rebels in Mooltan are summoned to surrender
—Their reply — A council of war discusses three plans of
attack — Defence of the one chosen — The siege opened on
the 7th of September — Night fight on the 9th of September
— Anecdotes of Lieutenant Richardson and Captain Chris-
topher — Glorious capture of the Dhurum Saluh on the
12th of September — Mooltan now within the grasp of
the besiegers — Why they did not grasp it — Story of Sher
Sing's defection — Inquiry into his motives — General Whish's
policy towards Sher Sing approved — The General's despatch
on raising the siege may be misconstrued, and is explained
— The raising of the siege defended — Removal of Irregular
and British camps to Sooruj Koond and Araby — Moolraj
distrusts Sher Sing, and is abandoned by his colleagues
Uttur Sing and Shumsher Sing — Note on the Author's
treatment of all three — Sher Sing's manifestoes — The
Author takes General Cortlandt's Regulars into the British
service to secure their fidelity — The Resident and Governor-
General approve it— Sher Sing tries to take the fort of
Mooltan for himself — A stratagem completes the division


between him and Moolraj — Slier Sing makes his peace by
departnre, and baffles pursuit by the swiftness of his flight
— The Sikh army in Bunnoo rebels — The maiden siege of
Duleepgurh, and noble death of the Governor . . 55/


Return of casualties in the allied Irregular forces during the
first siege of Mooltan . . . . . . G41


The temporary reverse at Mooltan a lasting benefit to British
India — Delay in reinforcing General Whish accounted for —
How the interval was used by besiegers and besieged —
Moolraj makes overtures to the Ameer of Cabul and Sirdars
of Candahar — He besieges his besiegers at Sooruj Koond —
Note on the defensive system of Sikh warfare even in
aggressive wars — Moolraj' s army not to be turned out of
their intrenchments by artillery — General Whish determines
to try the bayonet — Plan of the battle of Sooruj Koond —
Defection of some of General Cortlandt's Regulars — Narrow
escape of Lieutenant Pollock — Disheartening effect on the
Irregular camp — Council in General Whish' s tent — New
plan of battle — The enemy take the initiative — Battle of
Sooruj Koond — Anecdotes of Dr. Cole and Private Howell
— Brigadier Markham's despatch — Advantage of young
commanders — Captured guns— Fate of the Kuthar Mookhee
ringleader — How to recover in one battle the limbs which
were lost in another — News of the revolt of the Sikh
troops at Peshawur — Story of Sooltan Muhommud Khan's
treachery — Reinforcements reach General Whish from
Bombay — Some military criticisms thereon — Lord Gough


saves General Whish from super-cession — Brigadier Cheape
becomes Chief Engineer — Abstract of British force before
Mooltan in second siege — Irregular force reduced by de-
tachments — Moolraj's army reduced by desertion, but still
strong — Siege of Mooltan resumed — Capture of the suburbs
— The Irregulars volunteer, and their services are accepted —
Sir Henry Lawrence witnesses their behaviour — Mr. Mac-
mahon kills the rebel leader in single combat, but is made
prisoner by his own men — Explosion of the enemy's maga-
zine in the Grand Mosque — The city of Mooltan assaulted
at two breaches and carried at one — Moolraj excludes
three-fourths of his army from the fort — They disperse to
their homes — Aspect of the city next day — Moolraj on the
5th of January demands a parley, and is refused — Again on
the 8th, and is again refused — Amphibious co-operation of
the Indus flotilla — A sortie from the fort — On the 19th
Moolraj again wishes to negotiate, and is told to surrender
— His extremity — He gives himself up to justice — Time,
loss, and expenditure of the siege .... 643


How the Author's Irregular Force was raised, fed, paid, dis-
ciplined, fought, and kept together — What became of it,
and the principal characters in this book . . .721

w A n.



The scene of this volume Is the provhice of
Mooltan, and its theme is the suppression of the
rcbcUion of Dewan Moolraj, the last Governor of that

A short account of both the province and the
rebellion may not be amiss before we enter upon

The province of Mooltan, as held by Dewan Moolraj
in the spring of 1848, extended from the district of
Kuchee on the left bank of the Indus, on the north ;
to the eastern frontier of Sindh, on the south ; and
from Chichawutnee on the Ravee, and Tibbee on the



Sutlej, in the east ; to the Soolimanee mountains,
Trans-Indus, in the west.

In the map attached to this book, I have defined
the whole boundarv'' of the pro^^nce of Mooltan by
an orange-coloured line, so as to give the reader at
one coup d'ail a just notion of the vast extent of
couiitry which Moolraj had at his command when he
commenced the war.

There may be mistakes of a few miles, more or
less, in the tracing of the eastern boundaiy, as it has
been done from memor}% and not records ; but it
will be found generally correct, and quite sufficiently
so for our present purpose.

The province may be naturally divided into three
tracts : one Trans-Indus ; a second in the Sindh
Sagur Doab, between the Indus and Chenab ; and
a third between the Chenab, the Ravee, and the

I have passed through all three in the course of
military operations, and had a chief hand in wresting
them from the rebel Governor; after which they
remained under my charge, till the cessation of hos-
tilities permitted permanent arrangements to be made
for the civil administration of the whole Punjab.

With the leading features of the country, its rc-
soui-ces, and the character of its people, I am conse-


quently acquainted ; and such a general idea of the
carte du pays as enabled me to carry on the war,
will probably suffice the reader wherewith to " fight
it o'er again."

I. To begin with the Trans-Indus :

As the province of Dera Ishmael Khan (treated of
in my first volume) forms the Upper Derajat, so the
Trans-Indus dependencies of Mooltan compose the
Lower. Runjeet Sing annexed them to the Punjab
in the years 1820-21.

Under the Sikhs they were divided into two dis-
tricts, Sungurh, and Dera Ghazee Khan. Under
British rule they are united into one, called by the
latter name ; and the civil charge of it has been
appropriately given by Lord Dalhousie to General
Van Cortlandt for his admirable conduct during the

Sungurh and Dera Ghazee Khan differ very much
in natui'al features. The former being in the heart
of the Derajat is strongly marked with the character-
istics of that tract, and closely resembles the country
of Dera Futteh Khan, the southern border of which
it joins. The Indus on the east, and mountain
streams on the west, give a scanty irrigation to its
borders; but the central and larger portion of the
district is entirely dependent on unfrequent rains.

B 2


Dera Ghazee Khan, on the contrary, lying at the
southern end of the Derajat, where the Indus is in-
clining to the west, has nearly half its breadth irrigated
hv that river ; and the whole character of its produc-
tions undergoes a change in consequence.

No longer corn, but sugar, indigo, and cotton, are
here the staple crops : and stately date groves meet
the eye in every direction. Dera Ghazee Khan itself
is one of the most lovely spots I have seen in the
Punjab, and might well be called the City of Palms.
And the farther south the richer the country, till it
reaches its acme in Mithunkote, Avhich I have only
seen at a distance from the river, but is said to be
luxuriant. Here, however, the fertility seems to end,
for in 1849 Lieutenant Young found the country be-
tween Mithunkote and Sindh both thinly peopled and
miserably cultured. This had hitherto been owing to
two causes : its remoteness from the seat of govern-
ment at Mooltan, and its proximity to the hills of
the Bhoogtees and Murrees. The incursions of these
desperate robbers extended up to the very walls of
Roojhan, and confined all cultivation to a space of
about five miles between Roojhan and the Indus.
The style of architecture of the walls of the village,
eighteen feet high, well loop-holed, and forming
a square of three hundred and eighty yards, suffi-


cicntly proclaimed the kind of lite led by the in-

The people of both Sungurh and Dera Ghazee Khan
are Beloochees, but of different tribes.

In Sungurh are the Nootkanees and the Kus-
ranees. The former claim to be lords of the whole of
the soil, by virtue of a grant, as reckless as munificent,
made in the palmy days of the Delhi kingdom, to a
Nootkanee woman who nursed a boy in the royal
harem. The present representative of the Noot-
kanees is an old man, named Ussud Khan, who be-
haved very foolishly during tlie rebellion. His sisters
were so beautiful that all the neighbouring chiefs
(Bhawul Khan of Bhawulpoor, the Nuwab of Dera
Ishmael Khan, Kovvruh Khan, Khosuh, &c.) made war
on him successively, to obtain one in marriage, as a
bribe to march away again. The Kusranecs are only
tenants of the Nootkanees, but they have far outgrown
their masters, and are now the most powerful tribe of

Their head-quarters are in the Soolimanee hills,
but their plain possessions are so extensive as to put
them quite at the mercy of the Government.

There is a tribe, however, which is inclined to
give much trouble on the Sungurh frontier — as a
precaution against whose fitful outbreaks the fort of


Mimgrotuh has always been carefully kept up. These
are the Boozdars, whose mountains overhang the
district. They are about six thousand fighting men,
and very predatory; and General Ventura and Dewan
Sawun Mull (Moolraj's father), after in vain attempt-
ing to carry destruction into their fastnesses, ended
by paying for peace.

The tribes of Dera Ghazee Khan are Loonds,
Lugharees, Khosuhs, Goorcahnees, Gopangs, Mu-
darees, Dreeshuks, &c.

Of these the principal are the Khosuhs and
Lugharees ; addicted rather to cattle-lifting and
thieving, but good subjects on the whole, as times
go on Asiatic frontiers. They live about Dera
Ghazee Khan Proper.

The troublesome tribes are the Ghoorchanees of
Hurrund, and the Mudarees of Roojhan.

The Ghoorchanees are half reclaimed only from
the hills, a vain and captious race, ever ready to
take offence, and never to be relied on. There was
no fort at HuiTund until a Kardar of Sawun Mull's
one day abused some Ghoorchanees in open court.
The tribe rose to resent the insult offered by a
Hindoo, besieged the Kardar's house, dragged him
out and staked him. After this, Sawun Mull built
an excellent brick fort there, in which an officer of


Moolraj's held out during the whole war of 1848-9 ;
but surrendered when Lieutenant Ralph Young, of
the Bengal Engineers, had run a sap close up to the
walls. This fort stands at the opening of the pass
from Kandahar, and should be maintained. It was
described to me by Lieutenant Young as " a regular
polygon of sixteen sides of seventy-five yards each.
Total circumference one thousand two hundi'ed yards.
Height of walls twenty-six feet, and of towers thirty-
one feet. The towers sixteen in number — one at
each corner. Two counter-guards to the two gates."

Online LibraryHerbert B. (Herbert Benjamin) EdwardesA year on the Punjab frontier, in 1848-49 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 38)