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Daily life during the Indian Mutiny : personal experiences of 1857 online

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necessary, when, in point of fact, the rebels were quite un-
prepared with any plan for resisting the attack which they
could scarcely have thought would not ultimately he made.
But, at any rate, it is easy to see what really took place by



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142 DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.

reference to the map, and by following the statement. And
this surely is something.

About nine o'clock a tremendous fire was opened from the
entrenchment. Malleson speaks of a ''great artillery duel."
It was scarcely that, for every one remarked how slack the
return was. And though the rebels certainly had no idea
how soon their right would be forced^ and their camp
actually taken, just as it stood and had been tenanted, there
is reason to belieye they had fallen back from their extreme
left. The batteries in the entrenchment were very interest-
ing, being worked by diflferent races, one by Sikhs, one by
Madrasees, and so on. I had formed the acquaintance of
one Madras Artillery soldier. He was a little chap, but
wiry and strong enough. He spoke English well, and was,
I suppose, a Roman Catholic. He said : " You have never
seen, I dare say, a native soldier like me. We are much
nearer the English than the fellows up here. There is very
little difiference; we can eat any meat we choose, and drink
wine." " And fight, I suppose ? ** I said ; " the English ai-e
thought to be very fond of fighting." " Oh, fight," he cried,
"I should think so. We are just English over again, only
a dififerent colour."

That forenoon was certainly one of the noisiest conceivable,
where we were. What took place need not be repeated
here. Malleson has spoken very plainly about the events at
the Subahdar's Tank ; and friends of General Mansfield
have found great fault with him for saying what he has
said. Camp reports are not of much value, perhaps, by
themselves ; but where there is other evidence, they may be
held corroborative. Certainly there was very much discon-
tent felt. There was a sense of an opportunity lost But



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ANXIOUS WEEKS. I43

no one seemed to think that any oyersight had occurred.
The words attributed to General Mansfield, when he checked
the attack, were : " What is the use of intercepting a des-
' perate soldiery, whose only wish is to escape ? " The belief
that this phrase was used, added to the singular expression
in the despatch : '* I could have taken the guns," Leads to
the idea that he did not think the jeu worth the chandelle^
deciding that it was better to spare precious British life than
destroy worthless mutineers. And if he could have been
sure that the guns would be easily taken in pursuit, perhaps
the forbearance would have been excusable ; it would cer-
tainly have been intelligible. But we know that the guns
were very nearly got away; for Sir Hope Grant, who
followed up the enemy afterwards, says himself that he only
just caught them. The Mutiny would never have been put
down if calm calculations had prevailed at first ; but circum-
stances were not desperate now, and perhaps it was thought
that the time of the Nicholsons and Neills had passed. At
any rate. Lord Clyde expressed not one word of censure.
The return from the Calpee Road pursuit did not take place
till late, 80 that matters remained, that night, in the en-
trenchment, pretty much as before ; but the next day we
began to move out, and were able to go into the city. It
was difficult to prevent looting, and, riding into one lane, I
found a knot of women in great trouble, who declared they
had been made to give up their nose-rings and other jewels ;
and, moreover, that the culprit was in a neighbouring house.
I went with them to find him, and behold ! he was one of
the new police, who, by simply showing his firelock, had
gained complete submission from all parties. He had quite
a handful of ornaments about him. Mowbray Thomson had



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144 DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.



succeeded Bruce in charge of this body, and he took very
strenuous measures to prevent further misconduct, so this
particular offender was flogged at once, and dismissed the
force.

One incident, however, took place, indicative of the law-
lessness which, of course, had a tendency to break out on
such occasions ; for which I was very sorry. There was a
tent- maker, in the bazar, named Choonee Lai, a man who
had throughout taken the British side very loyally, and had
been of great service in many ways. Naturally handsome,
he had by grain diet and simple habits obtained a certain
look of benevolent content, which made one almost believe
in that ideal goodness Krummacher and others have attri-
buted to Indian sages. He was sitting, it appeared, on a
charpoy, only half-dressed, and proposing to come up to
camp, when he saw, near his house, two soldiers enter a
shop, and compel its keeper to give up his money. Choonee
Lai knew English perfectly, and spoke to the men, telling
them they were protectors, not oppressors of the poorer
citizens.

An aphorism so gentle might have passed, but he unfor-
tunately added that if any officer knew ^ what they were
doing, they would be punished. This sounded like a threat,
and the knowledge of English, too, was calculated to create
some alarm ; and so the two fellows turned on their monitor,
and one of them, putting his musket absolutely against
Choonee Lai's side, discharged it. The poor body, with face
uncovered, and the pleasant smile still lingering in death,
was brought to my tent by the murdered man's nephew,
who was present when the event occurred — and a truly sad
sight it was.



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ANXIOUS WEEKS. I45

General Windham, to whom the circumstance was at
once reported, was greatly moved, and interesting himself
extremely in the inquiries which were set on foot, managed
to have the men identified and arrested ; and the case was
afterwards brought to a successful issue.

We got out again into tents in an open space, and in-
demnified ourselves for any past discomforts ; but we often
afterwards visited the ledge under the bank, where we had
all lived, hugger-mugger, for several days.

But the place was not quite free from unpleasant asso-
ciations, owing to a circumstance which occurred during our
occupancy of it. Mr. Gregson and I were present when a
noisy crowd approached the bank overhanging the lower
plateau, and we found, in the centre of it, two men being
roughly handled by some sailors and others. They were
really bullock-drivers employed by our side, and, having got
wounded, were in search of medical aid. But being ragged
chaps, and smeared with dust and blood, they were set
down at once, by the lawless party with whom they had
fallen in, as rebels. No remonstrance or explanation that
Mr. Gregson or I could make was of any avail, and the un-
happy fellows lost their lives, and were precipitated head-
foremost to the level below. The tumult and confusion
prevented us from distinguishing the actual perpetrators of
the outrage; and, under the circumstances, it seemed
scarcely desirable to lay our information before the authori-
ties against men we recognised as members only of the
crowd — illegal assembly though it undoubtedly was.



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IX



DUNCAN'S HOTEL



On the 8th of December, Lord Clyde sent Colonel Hope
Grant in pursuit of that half of the rebel force which had
retreated northwards, with a view of crossing into Oudh.
Grant caught them at the gh^t, near Sheorajpore, and
captured fifteen guns drawn by beautiful bullocks. A large
mass of the enemy got away towards Calpee ; but they
crossed the Jumna, and though they kept up great excite-
ment and disorder in the part of the district near the river,
they never actually returned with any set purpose. Lord
Clyde did not, however, leave Cawnpore till Christmas, and
his camp was formed some way out of the town, on the
north-west side.

We were, of course, free now to move, and to choose some
locality suited to our wants, and a large house was occupied
as the headquarters of the Civil Administration, not far east
of the Canal. It was a many-roomed, rambling place,
standing in a compound, with a small garden and trees near
it, had once been used as an inn, and was called by the
natives Duncan's Hotel. Here quite a new life began. I
and my immediate coadjutors. Power and Henry Willock,
with Mowbray Thomson as the head of the police, formed
the nucleus of the establishment, and certain aggregations

gradually took place. Dr. Tresidder, who had formerly

146



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DUNCAN'S HOTEL. I47

lived at this station, was appointed Civil Surgeon, and be-
coming acquainted with what was going on in the hospital
of the entrenchment, he learnt from us that two of the
patients were especial friends. The day was actually fixed
for Parsons to have his arm amputated ; but Tresidder de-
clared that if the case were entrusted to his individual care,
he thought he could save the limb. Arrangements were
accordingly made, and permission obtained ; and Parsons
and Clark — the latter^ though better, was still in a ticklish
condition — were removed to Duncan's Hotel, where, with
better air^ specially prepared food, and the constant
attendance of Tresidder in the house, they both got quite
well. Parsons retained his arm, and Clark gave up trying
to recover his watch chain. They both lived for some thirty-
eight years after these events, and died within a month
or two of each other. Clark was wounded dangerously
in the stomach, the bullet carrying in part of the chain of
his watch, links of which came away one by one, leading to
the mild pleasantry that he was delaying recovery in search
of his lost property.

It was never known how many inmates the hotel con-
tained, for besides all of us, including some Oudh men
temporarily attached, visitors occasionally turned up, and
there was a dinner in the evening, to which persons not
living in the house sometimes came. Joseph declared that
though hitherto repressed by circumstances, he possessed a
native genius for catering. To him, therefore, was en-
trusted the commissariat ; and though rather wasteful and
extravagant, it must be admitted he kept the table well
supplied.

At length at Christmas — the very morning before Christ-



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148 DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.

mas day — Lord Clyde started for Futtehgurh, and the
force at Cawnpore was reduced to a small garrison again^
under Inglis. The entrenchment of course formed a fort ;
but there was no occasion to withdraw within it any more.
John Power, who, as has been mentioned, had come down
from Agra, and had been to Oudh, was to go on with the
Force proceeding to Futtehgurh, and assist in making any
Civil arrangements possible, as he possessed the necessary
powers. But when the troops were nearly at the end of
the district, I got a letter from General Mansfield, saying
that it seemed odd the Magistrate was not present to place
establishments of police where the troops had passed
through. So Mowbray Thomson and I started that even-
ing, and, riding all night, reached the camp. I only
stayed one day, for they had reached the limit of Cawnpore
jurisdiction.

But I was very glad I went, because. I saw the Chief in
such a good humour. He was in Bruce's tent when I went
in, was telling anecdotes, and as kind as possible. " Tou
have heard of the Koh-i-noor, I suppose — a world-wide gem f
I tell you, I, Colin Campbell, have had that stone in a box
with me in the Punjab, as if it were a toilet article, and no
one the wiser." All sorts of subjects he talked about, and
was most pleasant. It was a slight craze ^ with General
Mansfield that order ought to succeed immediately after
troops had once marched through a part of the country.
When Lord Clyde started up the Trunk Road^ he sent
Walpole by a kind of loop-line through the south-west of
the Cawnpore district, and astonishment was expressed that
pacification did not at once take place. But, besides

1 See Appendix No. IV.



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DUNCAN'S HOTEL. I49

broken bodies of rebels appearing sporadically, in various
directions, during the six months of anarchy many of
the old landholders had expelled auction purchasers out
of their villages, and kept up disturbances in the vain hope
of staving off the evil day of restitution. It was impossible,
therefore, to proceed otherwise than slowly, in getting
matters straight ; and confidence required time to establish
itself.

As we came back from the camp we were received by a
good old Zemindar, who had been in communication with
me at Cawnpore, had entered upon the duties of a Sub-
Collector, and had begun collections for us, under written
orders sent to him. He had been obliged to fly before the
Contingent, but he was back again, and occupied the
Collecting House, having filled it with his own armed re-
tainers. As I walked in amongst wild matchlock men, I
could not but reflect how little the Board of Eevenue would
have dreamt two years before, of a Kajpoot chief with his
clan in charge of one of the sacred temples of the Fisc.
Amongst the frequenters of the dinner table at Duncan's
Hotel was the Commissioner — not Chester, who had gone
home, but another. He had done wonderfully well in his
own district, and had just been promoted. His decision of
character had so struck two influential natives that they
would not let him out of their sight, had travelled with him
to Cawnpore, and had even requested to visit our mess-
room after dinner, that they might be near their ideal.
We were, of course, very glad to see them, and as they
dressed most handsomely, they embellished the scene, and
came to be called the two kings. I soon found that our
new superior officer did not altogether approve of the



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ISO DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.

course I had taken at Cawnpore. He was justly proud of a
service which he had unquestionably adorned, and he
thought that I had done something to " lower that service,'
and ought to have asked to be relieved in preference to
co-operating, when the military conceived it necessary to
organise police, etc. He told me, in so many words, that
he could not have acted as I had done. Such questions
seemed to me out of season in times of common danger and
anxiety. I could only answer, however, that I did not
regret what had occurred. But from holding the views
that he did, it was perhaps natural he should come to
regard me as too easy-going, and to advocate the substitu-
tion of some one of a sterner mould. And one morning he
remarked to me, quite casually, that I was to go to
Ghazipore, where I should find matters in a less entangled
state. I certainly understood him to say that Mr. Grant
thought the move advisable. But some latitude of expres-
sion should be allowed, perhaps, to a person having an
unpleasant intimation to deliver.

It seemed very odd, but I did not fear Mr. Grant, because
I knew he took in the real position of things at a glance,
and was a just and self-reliant man. So I sat down at once,
and wrote to Mr. Grant, describing the way in which I had
taken charge from Bruce, and giving reasons why the
district was still in a very excited condition, and how
necessary patience was in expecting the re-establishment of
order ; and ended by saying that I had scarcely yet had an
opening for showing want of capacity — or its contrary.

Mr. Grant wrote back at once, in autograph, that in his
opinion more could not have been done than had been done,
and that he could not agree that removal was necessary or



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DUNCAN'S HOTEL. I51

would be right. The matter passed over, and was never,
perhaps, of much importance. But I consider it only fair to
myself to add that in due time everything came straight at
Cawnpore ; that there was never any remission of revenue —
those who had paid the Nana had to pay again ; and that
when the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. George Edmonstone,
came round on tour in the cold season of 1859, he found
the district as it was before the Mutiny, with the excep-
tion of a proper jail, which had to be provided later on.
He approved of the plan of employing influential farmers
to act temporarily as Sub-Collectors till confidence was quite
restored; and he was kind enough to say he was quite
satisfied with all he had seen.

It was curious that very shortly after the removal busi-
ness, Mowbray Thomson and I got into the Calcutta papers
for a feat of great alleged activity. News had been brought
to Thomson that certain property belonging to the Nana,
and possibly including papers, was in the custody of a
Zemindar, who proposed sending it to its owner. So
guided by another Zemindar, we made a night-raid on the
village where the property was said to be. We formed a
good body of armed men, and made a pounce on the place
at day-break. We turned somebody's house upside down,
and seized some property, a portion of which was claimed
by a courtezan, said to have been a friend of Doondoo Punt.
But afterwards, doubts arose as to the fidelity of our guide,
who was thought to be influenced by spite. However, we
did not kill anybody or bum anything, and we went through
the exhilarating sensations of amateur dacoity without
much harm done^ and as it turned out, with a transient
increase of reputation.



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152 DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.



The horse that had been prepared for Goverley Jackson
had played him a bad trick on the return from Oudh. It
was an entire animal, and went neighing all over the place,
and on one occasion when he punished it to keep it quiet, it
reared suddenly up and fell back, breaking Jackson's leg.
So there was he — ^lying with his broken limb in Bruce's house,
now a hospital, and not far from him lay Napier — afterwards
Lord Napier of Magdala — slowly recovering from his wound.
Meanwhile, we were not without distinguished visitors at
Duncan's Hotel. We had Mr. Layard, and very pleasant
and entertaining we found him. He was then passing from
the traveller and savant into a kind of tribune of the people,
which latter career, as we all know, was arrested by diplo-
matic honours.

Besides Mr. Layard, we had one or two travellers, a
gentleman who had volunteered for any kind of service,
also one of the Grenfell family, and greatest of all, Dr. W.
H. Russell, Special War Correspondent for the Times.
Coming in one forenoon, before the start for Futtehgurh, I
found a strongly-built man, of middle stature, with a bright
eye and a merry smile, speaking with a slight Irish accent,
and dressed in a frogged and braided frock coat This was
Russell, ^ and he promised to come to dinner, and we had a
most merry evening, for, in addition to other accomplish-
ments, he sang very charmingly in a social way, and gave
us, " We will catch the whale, brave boys ! " and, " lave
us a lock of your hair ! " in splendid style, the choruses
being organised with great effect. From that day he was
very friendly, and frequently sent me accounts of different
events in the Campaign, and I have a bundle of his letters.



1 Now Sir W. H. Raasell.



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DUNCAN^S HOTEL. 1 53

some of them with plans of positions sketched with a pen. ^
We gave another little evening afterwards when Colonel
John Inglis got his Knighthood ; then Russell came again,
and sustained his reputation as a raconteur and an amusing
companion, to everybody's satisfaction. It shows how the
occupation of Special Correspondent has grown, when it is
remembered that he was the only member of the Press
actually present with the army, employed in recording the
manner in which the Mutiny was finally dealt with. In
seeing him at work, I remarked one gift which seems an
especially useful one. He would be sitting, pen in hand,
writing his diary, or what not. You entered. " I hope I
am not disturbing you 1 " '* Not the least ; I am all ears ;
go on." You went on, told your tale, he listening and
answering. You stopped. His eye dropped on the paper ;
his pen moved ; he resumed the thread of his writing with-
out difficulty, and with an unembarrassed continuity.

Theophile Gautier had the same faculty. Emile Bergerat
records : " Je Tai vu plus d^une fois, k la suite d'une visite
d*^tranger ou d'ami, reprendre, sans s'6tre relue, une phrase
interrompue, souvent k la moiti6 d'un mot, et la poursuivre
dans tons ses d^veloppements avec la m^me tranquillity que
celle qu'il mettait k rallumer son cigare."

Inglis was a delightful man to have in command —
pleasant-tempered, agreeable-mannered, attending to any-
thing asked, giving it if possible — saying at once why it
could not be given if he thought it unadvisable. And often,
with the easily-amused nature of a boy, he would start some
little project The soldiers, we found, were getting liquor
very easily, and he had heard that they distilled spirit in a

1 See Appendix No. V,



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154 DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.

village just opposite, in Oudh. So he asked me one day to
come and look for it. We crossed, and got into a knot of
little houses, and in an unlikely-looking out-house we found
a still. Inglis was as eager as a schoolboy at a badger
hunt, and shouted at the discovery. We had some people
with us, and we encircled all the villagers we could find
with a rope, and brought them over the water to frighten
them, setting the still on fire ; and this, spreading to others
we had not seen, made a clean sweep of the smuggling
hamlet.

A man came in one night to say the jailer was afraid of
the prisoners, and Henry Willock and I got up to go
and see about it As we rode down, we saw a man in
a cloak on horseback moving through the dark, accompanied
by companions. It was Lord Clyde, starting for his cele-
brated attack on Lucknow.

One morning, at the time of the advance on Lucknow, a
tallish man, with yellow hair, a pale, smooth face, heavy
moustache, and large, restless, and rather unforgiving
eyes, came into my room at Duncan's. He looked at me in
a stony way, and then relaxing his features, with a laugh,
said : "I have a job for you." It was William Hodson. I
had met him in India, but not since the days of his
celebrity ; and the joke about the '*job" was in reference
to years before, when I was his fag ^ at Rugby, and had to
brush his study out, and make his coffee, by the time he
came back from first lesson. Besides this relation, I had
known him also in family circles, for his Archdeacon father
belonged to a school of religionists, amongst whom my

1 This was my second ** situation." I had previously been valet
to Dr. Gell, Bishop of Madras, on whom be peace !



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DUNCAN'S HOTEL. 155

people also took their part. Willie Hodson of the yellow
hair — not great in cricket or football, but distinguished for
running and athletic feats of endurance — was a soldier
almost by an afterthought, for he had to get into the army
through the Jersey Militia on account of age, finding his
true throne at last on an Irregular Cavalry saddle. He
had been wounded not long before, and the sleeve had been
cut out of the blue, braided coat, to get his arm loose ; and
the " job " now was for me to have it sewn on for him by
the time he returned. It was sewn on; but he never
returned, and did not require the coat.

I do not know how it was, but there seemed a sort of
understanding that something should be said between
Hodson and myself about a certain event. Somehow, it
occurred to both that the door should be shut for that
purpose, and that he should sit down and tell me — as
he began to do at once — how the Princes had been killed at
Delhi. I had always wished, and wish now, that the action
had never taken place ; but I must bear testimony to the
fact that Hodson spoke of the circumstance with no bitter-
ness at what had been said in censure of it, and with no
harshness or bravado, but in a calm, argumentative tone,
certainly producing the impression that, rightly or wrongly,
he had convinced himself that a stern political necessity
existed at the moment for striking in such a manner as to
cause a sudden and lasting terror. There I leave the
matter of the Princes of Delhi. Hodson was then close to the
end of his career ; and after his death he was injudiciously
held up as a notable specimen of a type of soldier he
could not, and did not, pretend to emulate. But there are
grades between Philip Sidney and Trenck, and if he bore an



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156 DAILY LIFE DURING THE MUTINY.


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Online LibraryJohn Walter ShererDaily life during the Indian Mutiny : personal experiences of 1857 → online text (page 11 of 14)