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

. (page 28 of 38)
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 28 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

The division of General Ochterlony was destined

Operations of

General Ochter- to dislodge the Goorkhas from the territories they
lony, is. us. k a( j acquit on ^e high er Sutlege, the defence
of which was entrusted to the gallant Umur Sing, and the
ablest of the Goorkha commanders was thus pitted against
the ablest of the English generals. The scene of operations
was a wild and rugged region, presenting successive lines of
mountains, rising like steps one above another, to the loftiest
peaks of the Himalaya. It was broken up by deep glens,
and covered with thick forests, and still further protected
by six forts on points almost inaccessible, and by numerous
stockades. It would not have been easy to imagine a more
difficult field for military operations. The General had formed
a correct estimate of the bold character of his opponent, and
the advantages which he enjoyed in his positions, and in a
spirit of high enterprize, tempered with sound judgment, he
proceeded towards his object by cautious, yet sure, steps. He
did not disdain to copy the tactics of the Goorkhas, and erect
stockades to protect isolated detachments, which saved many
of them from being overpowered, though other generals were
disposed to condemn the device as a confession of weakness.
Having crossed the plain from Loodiana, he entered the hills
and encamped on the 1st November before the fort of Nala-
gur, where he received intelligence of the disaster at Kalunga
and. the death of General Gillespie. But he had wisely
brought on the whole of bis battering train, which, he caused


to play on the fort for thirty hours, when the commander
surrendered it, and the campaign opened auspiciously by the
capture of an important fortress, with the loss of only one
European soldier. It would be wearisome to enter into any
detail of the operations of the next five months, during which
the gallantry of the British troops was matched by the heroic
valour of the Goorkhas, and the strategy of British engineers
was repeatedly foiled by the tact and resolution of Umur
Sing. The service was the most arduous in which the Com-
pany's army had ever been engaged in India. At the eleva-
tion of more than five thousand feet above the level of the
sea, at the most inclement season of the year, amidst falls of
snow, sometimes of two days' continuance, the pioneers were
employed in blasting rocks and opening roads for the eighteen-
pounders, and men and elephants were employed day after
day in dragging them up those Alpine heights. The energy of
the General, and the sublime character of the warfare, kindled
the enthusiasm of the army. By a series of bold and skilful
manceuvres every height was at length surmounted, and
every fortress save one captured, and on the 15th April Uniur
Sing found himself confined to the fort of Malown, situated
on a mountain ridge, with a steep declivity of two thousand
feet on two sides. The next day Umur Sing assaulted the
British works with his whole force, under the direct command
of his ablest general, who, on leaving the Goorkha camp
directed both his wives to prepare for suttee, as he had
determined to conquer or fall. He fell covered with wounds,
and General Ochterlony ordered his body to be wrapped in
shawls and delivered to his master. His wives sacrificed
themselves on the funeral pile the next day. The Goorkha
army was obliged to retire, with the loss of five hundred men.
But the feeling of exultation occasioned by this victory was
damped by the loss which the army soon after sustained in
the death of Lieutenant Lawtie, of the engineers, a young
officer of the highest professional zeal, penetration, and
promise, to whom, as field engineer, the General had been


more indebted for the success of his operations than to any
other officer. The whole army went into mourning for him.
Information reached the General's camp soon

Fall of Almora .

surrender of after of the occupation of Almora. 1 his province
Maiown, 1815. f ormed t k e centre o f the Nepal conquests west-
ward, and Lord Hastings considered that the reduction of it
would greatly facilitate the operations against Umur Sing, by
cutting off his communications with the capital. As no re-
gular troops could be spared for this service, Colonel Gardner,
an officer of great merit, who had been in the Mahratta ser-
vice, was directed to raise some irregular corps in Bundle-
kund. These raw levies, under their enterprizing commander,
entered the province, and speedily clearedit of the Goorkhas.
The capital fell on the 27th April to Colonel Nicolls, an officer
of the regular service, who was sent with a large force to
complete the work which Colonel Gardner had begun. The
Goorkha force at Malown was thus isolated, and deprived of all
hope of reinforcement, which led the Goorkha officers to intreat
Umur Sing to make terms with General Ochterlony, but the
stern old chief spurned their advice, and the great body of his
troops passed over to the English. He himself retired into the
fort with about two hundred men, who still clung to his for-
tunes, but when the English batteries were about to open, he
felt unwilling to sacrifice in a forlorn conflict the lives of the
brave men who had generously adhered to him to the last, and
accepted the terms offered to him, thus ceding the whole of
the conquests which the Nepalese had made west of the
Kalee. General Ochterlony allowed him to march out with
his arms and accoutrements, his colours, two guns, and all his
personal property, " in consideration of the skill, bravery, and
fidelity with which he had defended the country committed to
his charge." The same honourable terms were likewise
granted by General Ochterlony to his son, who had defended
Jytuk for four months against General Martindell. The
Goorkha soldiers did not hesitate to take service under the
Company's colours. They were formed into three regi-


ments, and no sepoys have ever manifested greater loyalty or

The discomfiture of their ablest general and the

Second Goorkha

campai&n, and loss of their most valuable conquests took away
peace, 1816. f rom the Council of regency at Catmandoo all con-
fidence in their mountain fastnesses, and induced them to sue
for peace. The conditions proposed by Lord Hastings were,
that they should resign all claims on the hill rajas west of
the Kalee, cede the belt of low lands denominated the teraee,
restore the territory of Sikkim north of Bengal, and receive a
British Resident. To the relinquishment of the teraee the
Goorkhas manifested greater repugnance than even to the resi-
dence of a British representative at the court. The revenue
derived from these lands, though small, was important to a
poor state ; some of the most valuable jageers in them were
held by the members of the regency, and Lord Hastings
therefore reduced his demand to a portion of this territory.
The negotiations were at length brought to a close, and the
Goorkha commissioners came down to Segowlee and signed the
treaty on the 2nd December, under an engagement that the
ratification of it by the regency should be delivered within
fifteen days. The treaty was duly signed by the Governor-
General in Calcutta, and a royal salute was fired in honour of
the peace ; but it was premature. TJmur Sing and his sons
had arrived at Catmandoo, and urged the chiefs still to confide
their fortunes to their swords, to dispute every inch of mountain
territory, and, if driven from it, to retire to the borders of
China. Acting under this advice, the council determined to
reject the treaty, and sent an envoy to announce their resolu-
tion to continue the war. At the same time they made every
effort to collect their military resources, and to fortify the
passes. Lord Hastings, on his part, spared no pains to strike a
decisive blow at the capital before the rains commenced. An
effective force of 20,000 men was rapidly assembled, and en-
trusted to the command of Sir David Ochterlony, who had inter-
mediately been created a baronet. On emerging from the forest,


and approaching the first pass, on the 10th February, 1816, he
found that the works of the Goorkhas were altogether unassail-
able. But Captain Pickersgill, of the quartermaster-general's
department, had discovered a route to the left which, though
incomparably difficult, would enable the general to turn the
flank of the enemy. The enterprize was the boldest effort in
the whole course of this mountain warfare, but it proved
completely successful, and at once decided the issue of the
campaign. During the night of the 14th February General
Ochterlony marched in dead silence through a narrow ravine,
where twenty men might have arrested a whole army. By
seven in the morning the Choorea heights, to the west of the
enemy's position, were gained without any resistance. There
the force bivouacked for two days without food or shelter,
while the other detachments were brought up. The General
then advanced to Mukwanpore, within fifty miles of Catman-
doo, where the Goorkhas made a stand, but were completely
defeated. This blow took away from the regency all conceit
of fighting ; the treaty was sent down in hot haste with the
red seal attached to it, and peace was finally concluded on the
2nd March, 1816.

Bemarks on the The Nepal war, though waged in a difficult
war, 1816. region, and prolonged for eighteen months, was
managed with such singular economy as to add only fifty-four
lacs of rupees to the public debt. The Goorkhas were not only
the most valiant, but the most humane foes we had ever en-
countered in India, and they also proved to be the most faith-
ful to their engagements. Unlike other Indian treaties, that
which was made hi 1816 has never been violated, and the
Goorkhas, instead of taking advantage of our exigencies in the
mutiny of 1857, sent a large force to assist in quelling it. The
barren region which was the scene of this deadly conflict
of 1815 has proved an invaluable acquisition to the empire.
It has furnished sites for sanataria at Simla and Mussooree,
at Landour and Nynee-thal, where the rulers of British India
are enabled to recruit their strength during the heat of sum-


met, as the Mogul emperors were wont periodically to ex-
change the feverish temperature of Agra and Delhi for the
delicious climate of Cashmere. The distance between Cal-
cutta and Simla is abridged by a rail, and a thousand miles are
now traversed with greater speed than a hundred in the days
of Akbar and Jehangeer ; while the electric telegraph, which
conveys messages to the extremities of the empire in a few
minutes, gives a character of ubiquity to the Government while
sojourning in the hills.

insurrection at The Nepal war closed on the 5th March, 1816,
Bareiiiy, 1816. an( j ^ e Pindaree war commenced on the 16th
October in the following year. The intermediate period was
not, however, a season of tranquillity. Two military operations
were forced on Government in the north-west provinces,
which, though of comparatively minor importance, enabled
Lord Hastings to assure the Court of Directors, who were
importunate for the reduction of the army, that " our own
possessions were not precisely as secure as an estate in York-
shire." To relieve the pressure on the finances, it was resolved
to impose a house-tax for the support of the municipal police
on certain of the great towns, and, among others, on Bareilly,
the capital of Rohilcund. The rate was to be assessed by
each ward, and the expenditure controlled by the towns-
men. It was by no means oppressive in amount, the highest
sum being only four rupees a-year, and the lowest class being
altogether exempted from it. But a house-tax was an inno-
vation not sanctioned by custom or tradition, and a spirit of
opposition was roused against it among those who willingly
submitted to the anomalous but ancient system of town
duties. The Eohillas, the most turbulent of the Afghan
colonists in India, determined to resist it. The magistrate, on
entering Bareilly to arrange the details of the assessment with
the principal inhabitants, was assailed by a mob excited by
the moofty, or chief priest, and obliged to order Ids guard to
clear the way, when three of their number, together with six
or seven of the inhabitants, were killed and wounded. They


were regarded as martyrs by the populace, and the exaspera-
tion became intense. Messengers were despatched to the
neighbouring town of Rampoora, which was the general resort
of large bodies of Afghan adventurers, who streamed down
annually from their own barren mountains to seek military
service among the various princes of India. From Rampoora
and other towns reinforcements were drawn to Bareilly during
the night, and in the morning five or six thousand fanatics
were found to be assembled under the green flag of the pro-
phet. Happily the military force of Government had also
been augmented at the same time, and in the severe conflict
which ensued no fewer than four hundred of the insurgents
were killed and a greater number wounded, but the whole body
was dispersed. Had the result been different the whole pro-
vince of Rohilcund would have immediately risen in rebellion,
and Ameer Khan, a Rohilla by birth, who was encamped at
the time within a few marches of Agra with 12,000 Rohillas
under his standard, would not have allowed the opportunity
Hatras, 1817. to slip. This event evinced the impolicy of al-
lowing the great landholders in the adjacent Dooab, or country
lying between the Jumna and the Ganges, to continue to
garrison their castles with a large body of military retainers,
as they had done when the province belonged to Sindia. One
of these zemindars, Dyaram, a Jaut, and a relative of the raja
of Bhurtpore, had been permitted to retain his estates and his
fortress of Hatras, on the borders of Rohilcund. He had
already presumed to levy contributions on the country, and
to give shelter to thieves and robbers ; and he now proceeded to
exclude every servant of the Government from his town, and
to interrupt the process of the courts. His fort, which was
considered one of the strongest in the country, was surrounded
by a ditch a hundred and twenty-five feet broad and eighty-
five feet deep. It had been placed in a state of complete
repair, and strengthened by the adoption of all the improve-
ments made by the Government engineers in the adjacent
fort of Allyghur. He and a neighbouring zemindar, equally


refractory, were able at anytime to assemble a force of 10,000
men. Lord Hastings deemed it important that this baronial
castle should no longer bid us defiance, and ordered up an
overwhelming force, together with such an array of mortars
his favourite weapon as nothing could possibly withstand.
On the 1st March, 1817, forty-five mortars and three breach-
ing batteries began to play on the fort, but the garrison gal-
lantly stood this storm of shot and shell for fifteen hours. At
length, however, the great magazine blew up with a concus-
sion which was felt at Agra, thirty miles distant, and which
destroyed half the garrison and nearly all the buildings.
Dyaram made his escape with a few horsemen. The com-
plete reduction of one of the strongest fortresses in Hin-
dostan in a few hours, not only 'secured the ready submission
of the contumacious zemindars in the Dooab, but created a
salutary impression throughout India, and doubtless contri-
buted to the success of the ensuing campaign. Ilatras is
now a peaceful railway station.



THE policy of Lord Wellesley had been stead-

Patans and Pin- f "

darees, 1814 fastly repudiated by the Court of Directors, but
the wisdom of it was amply vindicated by the-
desolation which followed its abandonment. It was under
the operation of their principle of non-intervention that the
power of the Patans and the Pindarees grew up to maturity,
and became the scourge of Central India. Ameer Khan, the
Patan freebooter, had gradually established a substantive
power, but the predatory element was always predominant
in it. His army was more efficient than that of any native


prince of the time, and received a fixed rate of pay, which,
however, was seldom disbursed with regularity. It was esti-
mated at not less than 10,000 foot and 15,000 horse, with a
powerful artillery. It was his game to levy contributions
from princes and states, and he moved about with all the
appliances for the siege of the towns which resisted his
demands. The object of the Pindarees was universal and
indiscriminate plunder, and they swept through the country
with such rapidity as to make it impossible to calculate their
movements, or to overtake their detachments. While a force,
for example, was assembled in haste to protect Mirzapore
and the towns on the Ganges from their approach, they had
already effected then- object, and turned off to Guzerat, and
were ravaging the western coast. While preparations were
made to expel them from Guzerat, they had crossed the pen-
insula and were laying waste the opposite coast. The selfish
argument employed by Sir George Barlow in defence of his
neutral policy, that the disorders it might engender would
prove a safeguard for the Company's dominions, had proved
utterly fallacious. It was found that when the cauldron,
seething with the elements of anarchy, was ready to boil
over, it was those who had the greatest stake in India who
were exposed to the greatest risk.

Representations One of the latest acts of Lord Minto's admini-
DirectorTma stration, as already stated, was to impress on the
IBIS. Court of Directors the necessity of adopting an

extensive and vigorous system of measures for the suppres-
sion of the Pindaree hordes. Lord Hastings, on his arrival
in India, found 50,000 Pindarees and Patans in the heart of
India, subsisting entirely by plunder, and extending their
ravages over an area as large as England, and one of his
earliest acts was to point out to the Court, in language
stronger than that of his predecessor, the increasing danger
of this predatory power. He even went so far as to advance
the opinion that the affairs of the Company could not prosper
until their Government became the head of a league embracing


every power in India, and was placed in a position to direct its
entire strength against the disturbers of the public peace. But
such a course of policy was systematically opposed by the two
members of his Council. The senior, Mr. Edmonstone, was one
of the most eminent of the Company's servants, and combined
talent of a very high order with an affluence of official experi-
ence, but he lacked the higher endowments of the statesman.
He had filled the office of political secretary during the admini-
stration of Lord Wellesley with great distinction, and was
generally understood to have given a cordial support to his
comprehensive views. During the government of Lord Minto
he was the oracle of the Council chamber ; but, having now
taken his seat at the Board, and become responsible for the
measures of Government, his habitual caution induced him to
incline to the policy of Sir George Barlow, when he perceived
the intention of Lord Hastings to subvert it, and he repro-
bated the extension of our political alliances and relations.
His colleague, Mr. Dowdeswell, had all the narrow-minded
prejudices of Sir George Barlow, without a tithe of his abili-
ties. The Court of Directors still clung to their cherished
policy of non-intervention, and in reply to the despatch of
Lord Hastings of the 29th September, prohibited him " from
engaging in plans of general confederacy, and of offensive
operations against the Pindarees, either with a view to their
utter extirpation, or in anticipation of expected danger."
They enjoined him to undertake nothing which might em-
broil them with Sindia ; they forbade any change in the exist-
ing system of political relations, and directed him to maintain,
with as little deviation as possible, the course of policy
prescribed at the close of the Mahratta war. They directed
him, moreover, to reduce the strength of the army, and make
every measure conducive to the promotion of economy. This
communication was more than six months on the way, and did
not reach India before April, 1816.

To prevent the irruption of the Pindarees into

Proposed alii- ,-T. TJTT

ance with the Deccan, Lord Hastings endeavoured to form a


ana subsidiary alliance with the raja of Nagpore, and
thereby to establish a British force on theNerbudda.
To such an alliance the Court of Directors had given their sanc-
tion several years before, but the raja set his face sedulously
against it, well knowing how irretrievably it would compro-
mise his independence. Lord Hastings then contemplated a
similar connection with Bhopal, and also with Saugor, in the
hope of being able to hold the Pindarees in check by establish-
ing a chain of posts from Bundlecnnd to the Nerbudda ; but
he considered it advisable to await the reply of the Court of
Directors to his proposal of a general league. Bhopal was a
small principality in Malwa, in the valley of the Nerbudda,
lying between the British territories and the head-quarters of
the Pindarees. It was founded by an Afghan favourite of
Aurungzebe, who assumed independence soon after the death
of his master. In 1778 the reigning prince was the only chief
in Central India who afforded any support to General Goddard
in his adventurous march across the peninsula. His kindness
on that occasion exposed him to the vengeance of the Mah-
rattas, but it has never been forgotten by the British Govern-
ment. The testimonials granted by the General of the impor-
tant services rendered to him are carefully preserved as heir-
looms in the royal archives of Bhopal. The state had been
governed for many years by the celebrated Vizier Mahomed, a
man of rare talent and resolution. In 1813 Sindia and the
raja of Nagpore, impelled by the simple lust of acquisition,
entered into an alliance for the partition of the territory, and
a body of 60,000 troops laid siege to the capital. The noble
defence of it for nine months by the Vizier has always been
the subject of special admiration among the Mahomedan
princes of India. But the garrison was at length reduced by
casualties and desertions to about two hundred men ; the stock
of provisions was exhausted, and the destruction of the little
state appeared inevitable, when it was arrested by the deser-
tion of the Nagpore general. He pretended that he had been
warned in a dream to relinquish the enterprize ; but he was


himself a Mahomedan, and both he and the Afghans in the
Nagpore army had a strong feeling of sympathy for their
fellow-countrymen in Bhopal, and were unwilling to reduce
them to extremities. Sindia was happy of an excuse to retire
from an inglorious siege ; but the confederates renewed it in
1814, and Vizier Mahomed applied with increased importunity
for the interference of the British Government. Lord Hastings
felt that it was important to preserve a principality situated
like that of Bhopal from subjugation, and scarcely less so to
prevent the growth of Sindia's influence at the court of Nag-
pore, and he directed the Resident at Delhi to grant the Nabob
the alliance he solicited without waiting for instructions from
Leadenhall-street. The two Mahratta princes were there-
fore informed that Bhopal was now under British protection,
and that their forces must be withdrawn forthwith. The raja
of Nagpore, after some hesitation, recalled his army, but
Sindia assumed a lofty bearing it was at the time of our
disasters in Nepal and declared that Bhopal was one of his
dependencies, with which the British Government was de-
barred from interfering by the treaty of 1805. Bhopal, it was
well known, though sometimes invaded, had continued to main-
tain its independence amidst the anarchy of the times ; but the
Mahratta powers considered every province which they had
once laid under contribution as a perpetual dependency.
Sindia's claim was successfully met by a reference to docu-
ments; but the vigorous preparations which Lord Hastings

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 28 of 38)