John Clark Marshman.

The history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 2) online

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vide the men with camp equipage, whether they were in the
field or in cantonments. The system was essentially vicious,
but not more so than all the other devices in the King's and
Company's army for eking out the allowances of commanding
officers by anomalous perquisites. The Quartermaster-general,
Colonel John Munro, had been requested to draw up a report


on the subject, and both Sir John Cradock and Lord William
Bentinck had come to the determination to abolish the contract,
when they were suddenly recalled. It fell to the unhappy lot
of Sir George Barlow, already sufficiently unpopular, to carry
this resolution into effect.

Charges against ^ n * 8 retrenchment increased the resentment
coi. Munro, o f the officers, and they determined to wreak


their vengeance on the Quartermaster-general,
who had stated in his report that the result of granting the
same allowance in peace and in war for the tentage of the
native regiments, while the expenses incidental to it varied
with circumstances, had been found, by experience, to place
the interest and the duty of commanding officers in opposition
to each other. This was a harmless truism, but when the
body is in a state of inflammation, the least puncture will
fester. The officers called on the Commander-in-chief, to
bring Colonel Munro to a court-martial, for aspersions on their
character as officers and gentlemen. The Judge Advocate-
general, to whom the question was officially referred, con-
sidered that the officers had neither right nor reason on their
side ; but General Macdowall, then on the eve of retiring from
the service, yielded to their wishes, and at once placed him
under arrest. He appealed to the Governor in Council, under
whose authority he had acted, and the Commander-in-chief
was ordered to release him. With this mandate he was
constrained to comply, but he gave vent to his feelings in a
general order of extraordinary violence, in which he protested
against the interference of the Government, and stated that
nothing but his approaching departure for Europe prevented
his bringing Colonel Munro to trial for disrespect to the Com-
mander-in-chief, and contempt of military authority, in having
resorted to the power of the civil government in defiance of
the judgment of the officer at the head of the army. Colonel
Munro's conduct was likewise stigmatised as destructive of
military subordination, a violation of the sacred rights of the
Commander-in-chief, and a dangerous example to the service.


Sir George Barlow had up to this point acted with great for-
bearance and dignity, but he now lost his balance, and, instead
of treating the order with contempt as an ebullition of passion
from an intemperate officer, who was already on board the
vessel which was to convey him to Europe, or directing it to
be erased from the order-book of each regiment, issued a
counter order, couched in language equally tempestuous and
objectionable, charging him with violent and inflammatory
proceedings and acts of outrage. The resignation of the
service in India is always sent in by the last boat which leaves
the ship, and the officer thus enjoys the benefit of his pay and
allowances to the latest moment. Sir George took advan-
tage of the circumstance that the Commander-in-chief's
resignation had not been received, to inflict on him the indig-
nity of deposition from his office. He proceeded still further
to commit his Government by suspending Major Boles, the
deputy adjutant-general, who had signed the order. The
Major pleaded, that by the rules of the service he was bound
to obey the orders of his superior officer, and that he had acted
in a ministerial capacity. He had as unquestionable a right
to the same protection in this case as Sir George had con-
sidered Colonel Munro entitled to, when he was arraigned for
obeying the orders of the Governor in council, in reference to
the report on the tent contract. The consequence of t this
rash act was .precisely what might have been expected in the
excited state of the army. Major Boles was regarded as a
martyr, and addresses poured in upon him from every divi-
sion and every station, commending his conduct, reprobating
the proceedings against him, and proposing to raise subscrip-
tions to compensate the loss of his salary.
_. _ Three months passed on after the departure of

Sir George sus-
pends the General Macdowall, who was not destined to
*rs, 1809. ygach h ome as the vessel foundered at sea, and
the ferment created by these proceedings had begun to subside,
when Sir George blew the dying embers into a flame. In the
height of the excitement a memorial had been drawn up to


the Governor-General, reciting the grievances of the Madras
army, but all idea of transmitting it was dropped, as the agi-
tation moderated. The reports which Sir George received
from the officers commanding stations, relative to the feeling
of their subordinates, was, as he acknowledged, very satis-
factory ; but, on the 1st of May, in a spirit of infatuation, he
issued an order suspending four officers of rank and distin-
guished reputation, and removing eight others from their
commands, on the ground of their having promoted the memo-
rial, which had been clandestinely communicated to the
Government. The whole army was immediately in a blaze of
mutiny. The officers at Hyderabad were found to have taken
no part in the memorial, and Sir George had the imprudence
to compliment them officially for their fidelity, but they indig-
nantly repudiated the distinction, and announced to the rest
of the army their entire disapproval of the order of the 1st
of May, and their resolution to make common cause in con-
tributing to the support of the suspended officers. A hundred
and fifty-eight officers of the Jaulna and Hyderabad divi-
outburstofthe sions, signed a flagitious address to Government,
Mutiny, J809. demanding the repeal of the obnoxious order, and
the restoration of the officers, in order " to prevent the horrors
of civil war, and the ultimate loss of a large portion of the
British possessions in India, and the dreadful blow it would
inflict on the mother country." The Company's European
regiment at Mausulipatam broke out into open mutiny, placed
the commanding officer under arrest, and concerted a plan for
joining the Jaulna and Hyderabad divisions and marching to
Madras to seize on the Government.

Frmn of ^ r George Barlow had thus, by his want of tem-
sir George per and discretion, goaded the Madras army into
low ' 18 revolt, and brought on a portentous crisis. Colonel
Malcolm, Colonel Montresor, and other officers of high stand-
ing and great experience, advised him to bend to the storm,
and recal the obnoxious order of the 1st May. But while
secretary to Government in Calcutta, he had seen the disastrous


effects of Sir John Shore's timidity hi similar circumstances,
and in the true spirit of Clive, he exhibited undaunted reso-
lution in dealing- with the mutiny, such as almost to make
amends for the folly which had caused it. He resolved to
vindicate the authority of Government at all hazards. He
could command the resources of Bengal, Bombay, and Ceylon.
The new Commander-in-chief, as well as the officers of high
position and rank, were ready to support him. The King's
regiments adhered firmly to their duty, and he determined, if
necessary, to march the loyal portion of the army against the
disaffected. To test the feelings of the officers, he demanded
the signature of all, without distinction, to a pledge to obey
the orders, and support the authority of the Governor in
council at Fort St. George, on pain of removal from their regi-
ments to stations on the coast, though without the forfeiture
of either rank or pay ; but the majority of the officers, even
among the faithful, declined to affix their signatures to the
pledge, and it is said to have been signed by less than a tenth
of the whole body. The commanders of native regiments were
likewise directed to assemble the sepoys and assure them that
the discontent of the European officers was a personal affair,
and that the Government had no intention to dimmish the
advantages which they enjoyed, but were rather anxious to
improve them. This appeal to the native soldiery against their
European officers was a hazardous policy, calculated to sap the
foundations of military discipline. But the sepoys and their
native officers resolved to remain faithful to their salt, and
there was no collision except at the single station of Seringapa-
tam, where the native regiments commanded by disaffected
officers refused to submit, and were fired upon by the King's
troops, and a hundred arid fifty killed and wounded.

The energetic proceedings of Sir George Barlow
staggered the officers, and induced them to pause
on the verge of a rebellion against the constituted
authorities of their King and country, which must for ever have
blasted their reputation and their prospects. Lord Minto had,


moreover, announced his intention of repairing forthwith to
Madras, and the general confidence which was felt in his
justice and moderation contributed to bring the officers round
to a sense of duty, The Hyderabad brigade, which had been
the foremost in the mutiny, was also the foremost in repent-
ance. On the llth August, the officers addressed a penitent
letter to Lord Minto not to Sir George Barlow signed the
pledge, and advised their brother officers to follow their
example. The defection of the Hyderabad force from the
common cause broke the strength of the combination. The
Jaulna brigade, which had made two marches towards Hydera-
bad, returned to its cantonments and submitted to Government.
On the 16th, the European regiment at Mausulipatam sent in
its adhesion to the test ; the seditious garrison of Seringapatam
surrendered that fortress, and a profound calm succeeded the
storm which had so lately threatened to uproot the Government.
On reaching Madras, Lord Minto issued a general order repro-
bating the conduct of the mutineers, and announcing his deter-
mination to inflict punishment where it was due. But he also
expressed his anxiety for the character and welfare of the
Coast army, in kind and conciliatory language, which produced
the happiest impression on the minds of men who had been
accustomed only to the harsh and haughty communications of
Sir George Barlow. All the Hyderabad officers were pardoned
in consideration of the valuable example they had set to the
army. A general amnesty was granted to all but twenty-one
officers, of whom four were cashiered and one acquitted ; the
others accepted the alternative of dismissal ; but all who had
been cashiered or dismissed were subsequently restored to the
service. The mutiny was the subject of long and acrimonious
debates at the India House, which terminated, after many
protests, in the recal of Sir George Barlow, and he, whose
nomination to the office of Governor- General had been twice
cancelled, and who had enjoyed that honour provisionally for
a period of twenty months, was deposed from the inferior post
which had been conferred on him, and consigned to oblivion. It


EecaiofSir was *** connec tion with the administration of Sir
George Barlow, George Barlow and of Lord Minto, respectively, as
Governors-General, that Mr. Edmonstone, who had
served under both as public secretary, and who was one of the
most eminent and sagacious of the Company's servants in India,
and subsequently the Nestor of Leadenhall-street, affirmed that
" he was averse to selecting Governors from among those who
had belonged to the service . . . and that a person
of eminence and distinction proceeding from England to fill that
office, if duly qualified by talent and character, carried with him
a greater degree of influence, and inspired more respect than an
individual who had been known in a subordinate capacity."

The suppression of piracy is the especial vocation

oJ. ' of the British nation in the east > and the attention
of Lord Minto was at this time imperatively called
to the performance of this duty. On the Malabar coast, at no
great distance from Bombay, the chiefs of Kolapore and
Sawuntwaree were required to surrender their piratical ports,
and to enter into an engagement to renounce and to punish
piracy, to which they had been addicted from time immemorial.
A more important enterprize was the suppression of this crime
on the coast of Arabia, known from the most ancient times as
the pirate coast, where it was practised chiefly by the Joasmis.
The Arabs were the bravest soldiers and the boldest seamen
in the east. The Joasmis had recently embraced the tenets of
the Mahomedan reformer Wahab, and thus added the ferocity
of fanaticism to the courage of the national character. The
only alternative which they offered to their captives was the
profession of the faith of the prophet, or instant death. Their
single-masted vessels, called dows or bugalas, ranging from
150 to 350 tons, and manned with 150 or 200 men, according
to the size, carried only a few guns, but they sailed in com-
pany, and it was rarely that any native craft was able to
escape then- pursuit. They had long been the terror of native
merchant sloops, but had wisely avoided molesting English
vessels. At length they became emboldened by the inactivity


of the English cruisers, which were not authorized to interfere
with them, and in 1808 attacked and captured the u Sylph,"
with Sir Harford Jones's native secretary on board. The next
year the " Minerva," a large English merchantman, fell in with
the pirate squadron, and after a running fight of two days was
carried by boarding. The pirates brought all the Europeans,
one by one, to the gangway, and cut then: throats, with the
pious ejaculation, Alia Akbar ! Great is God ! Lord Minto was
resolved to exterminate the whole litter of pirates, and a large
armament was sent against their chief stronghold, Ras-al-kaima,
on the coast of Arabia. It was defended with Arab obstinacy
and carried by British valour. The whole town, with all the
valuable merchandize which had been accumulated in many
piratical expeditions, and an entire fleet of bugalas was
delivered to the flames. Several other towns of inferior note
on the coast were attacked and captured, and in one of them
four hundred Arabs perished before it was surrendered. The
blow was effectual, and for the time piracy was suspended in
these waters, but the inveterate habits, the boldness, and the
fanaticism of these Arab corsairs, led at length to the revival
of it with greater audacity, and to a more signal chastise-



occupation of IN the year 1809, an expedition upon a small
Macao, 1809. scale was sent to the coast of China. The occu-
pation of Portugal by Napoleon, and the flight of the Prince
Eegent to Brazil, induced the British Ministry to determine
on taking possession of the Portuguese settlements in the east.
Goa was occupied by a British detachment, and an armament
was scut to Macao, in the vicinity of Canton, on the coast of


China, which the Portuguese had held for more than two
hundred years. The governor had no means of resistance, and
the settlement was at once occupied by the expeditionary force.
But the imperial viceroy at Canton announced that the un-
licensed entry of foreign soldiers into the Chinese territory
was a violation of the laws of the empire, and ordered them
to be immediately withdrawn. The admiral alleged that
Macao had been long since absolutely ceded to the Portuguese
by the Chinese Government, and that he had come as their
ally, simply to defend the settlement against the French. The
viceroy replied that Macao was in every respect an integral
portion of the empire, and that it was disrespectful as well as
absurd to imagine that the aid of the English was required to
defend any portion of the dominions of the celestial dynasty from
foreign aggression. Finding that the troops still continued at
Macao after his remonstrance, he put a stop to the trade of the
Company, and prohibited all supplies of provisions, while he
made a reference on the subject to Pekin. Expel the barba-
rians, was the short and simple reply of the emperor. Chinese
troops were accordingly collected, and preparations made for
an assault, when the naval and military commanders wisely
judged that their instructions would not justify them in vio-
lating the orders of the emperor in his own dominions, at the
risk of involving their country in a war with the Chinese.
The troops were therefore withdrawn, and the Chinese Go-
vernment exhibited no less moderation after the evacuation
than firmness before it, and allowed the trade to be resumed
without requiring any indemnity.

f , The injury inflicted on British commerce in the

Depredations J *

from the Mauri- eastern seas by pnvateers fitted out at the French
tius,i8c 809 - islands has .been noticed in a previous chapter.-
Lord Wellesley, who was checked in his design to conquer
them, was obliged to content himself with pressing the great
importance of this object on the public authorities in England.
But, by an act of unaccountable folly, the Ministry not only
neglected to send an expedition against the Mauritius and-
n. s


Bourbon, although they considered it important to subjugate
every French island in the West Indies, but positively inter-
dicted any attempt on the part of the Indian Government to re-
duce them, though an adequate force might at any time have
been fitted out in India without any expense to the English trea-
sury. The French cruizers and privateers accordingly continued
to prey on British trade, and to sweep the sea from Madagascar
to Java. The naval squadron on the Indian station, consisting
of six ships of the line, sixteen frigates, and six sloops, was
unable to protect the national interests, and six vessels from
Calcutta, valued at thirty lacs of rupees, had been captured by
the French in the course of as many weeks. The losses which
the merchants of Calcutta had sustained since the recommence-
ment of the war were moderately estimated at two crores of
rupees, a sum far in excess of any expenditure which the re-
duction of the islands could possibly have entailed. A memo-
rial was at length transmitted by the merchants to the Ministry,
complaining of the insecurity of commerce and the supineness of
the royal navy. It produced a salutary effect, and the Governor-
General and the naval Commander-in-chief received authority
to adopt the most decisive measures for the protection of trade.
It was determined at first to seek the accomplishment of this
object by a blockade of the Mauritius, but it proved utterly
inefficient. Six of the' Company's magnificent Indiamen, valued
at more than half- a crore of rupees, were captured by French
frigates, who sailed out of the port with perfect impunity, and
returned in triumph with their prizes in the teeth of the block-
ading squadron.

Navai disasters, TJpon the failure of this plan, the Government
resolved, in the first instance, to take possession of
the lesser island of Bourbon, and it was captured with little loss
in 1810. But this gallant achievement was counterbalanced by
a series of naval disasters, which could be attributed only to
ignorance and mismanagement. Three French frigates, return-
ing from a successful cruize, found their way, in spite of the
blockade, into the Grand port, on the south-eastern side of the


Mauritius. Four English frigates were sent to cut them out,
but the French vessels, reinforced by seamen and sailors from
the town, and supported by powerful batteries on shore, baffled
every effort. Two of the English frigates, after a gallant but
unavailing defence, were set on fire, and the third struck her
flag when not a man was left unwounded. A fourth was sur-
rounded by a superior force, and obliged to surrender when all
her provisions were exhausted. Soon after, a fifth frigate was
captured by the French fleet, which thus maintained the
national honour in these seas as nobly as Suffrein had done
_ . twenty-eight years before. Meanwhile, LordMinto

Capture of the J J

Mauritius, was assembling at the three Presidencies an arma-
ment of overwhelming strength for the conquest of
the island. The naval expedition consisted of one seventy-four
and thirteen frigates, besides sloops and gunboats. The land
force contained no fewer than nine European regiments, num-
bering 6,300 bayonets, and 2,000 seamen and marines, together
with four volunteer regiments of sepoys and Madras pioneers :
in ah 1 , about 11,300 men. To meet this force, the French
general could only muster 2,000 Europeans and a body of un-
disciplined African slaves. The English army disembarked at
Grand Baye on the 29th November, and the next day marched
towards Port Louis, the capital of the island. The French
could expect to offer only a partial resistance to this over-
whelming force, and the general, unwilling to sacrifice the lives
of brave men in a hopeless contest, surrendered the island on
fair and honourable terms.

Expedition to The subjugation of Holland by Napoleon placed
Java, 1811. fa e D u t; C h settlements in the east under his control,
and it was deemed important to the interests of British com-
merce to occupy them. An expedition was accordingly sent
to the spice islands, in 1809, and the chief of the group,
Amboyna, rendered memorable in the annals of the Company
by the massacre of their agents in 1612, was occupied after a
feeble resistance. Banda and Ternate were surrendered soon
after, and of the great colonial empire which the Dutch had

s 2


been two centuries in erecting, nothing remained to them but
the island of Java. Lord Minto had received the sanction of
the Court of Directors to proceed against it, and had summoned
to his counsels Mr., afterwards Sir Stamford, Baffles, a member
of the Government of Penang, who had acquired a knowledge
of the languages, the condition and the interests of the various
tribes in the Eastern archipelago superior to that of any other
European. No time was lost, after the reduction of the
Mauritius, in fitting out an expedition for the conquest of the
island, and Lord Minto determined to accompany it, though in
the capacity of a volunteer. It consisted of ninety sail, on which
were embarked about 6,000 European troops, and the same
number of sepoys. It was the largest European armament
which had ever traversed the eastern seas. Its departure was
delayed by various causes, and it did not reach the rendezvous
at Malacca before the 1st June, 1811. The monsoon had
already set in, and both the usual routes to Java were deemed
inexpedient, if not impracticable. Captain Greigh, the com-
mander of a brig, strongly recommended the passage along
the south-west coast of Borneo, which he had recently sur-
veyed, in which the fleet would be sheltered from the fury of
the monsoon, and assisted by the breezes from the land. This
opinion was strongly supported by Mr. Raffles, and as
strenuously opposed by the naval commanders. The question
was referred to Lord Minto, who decided on adopting Captain
Greigh's suggestion, instead of yielding to advice which
would have obliged him to defer the attempt to the next year,
and entailed boundless confusion, and a prodigious expendi-
ture. He led the way in the "Modeste" frigate, commanded
by his son ; the whole fleet cleared the intricate channels with-
out a single accident, and anchored in the bay of Batavia, on
the 4th August.

strength of the Since the occupation of the island by the French,
enemy, 1811. Napoleon had been indefatigable in his efforts to
complete its defences. He sent out large reinforcements, and
munitions of war, and, above all, an officer in whom he had


confidence, General Daendels, who levied heavy contributions,
and paid little attention to the convenience of the colonists,
in his anxiety to construct new and formidable works in the
vicinity of the capital. The entire body of troops under his
command was reckoned at 17,000, of whom 13,000 were concen-
trated for the defence of Fort Cornells, eight miles inland from

Online LibraryJohn Clark MarshmanThe history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 2) → online text (page 23 of 38)