Sir John William Kaye.

A history of the Sepoy war in India, 1857-1858, Volume 3 online

. (page 57 of 61)
Online LibrarySir John William KayeA history of the Sepoy war in India, 1857-1858, Volume 3 → online text (page 57 of 61)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

[After many vicissitudes — many specious hopes of deli-
verance and many grievous disappointments, Mrs. Mill and
her little ones fell into the hands of the great Talookhdar,
Maun Singh, who made many promises, which were not
fulfilled. On his domain they foimd three sergeants' wives
and their children ^^ in a shed where bullocks had evidently
been kept." But they had some clothes, which they cheerfully
lent to Mrs. Mill and her children, and this was some mitiga-
tion of their misery and humiliation. In addition to the chu*

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


patties and milk upon which they had been fed, they received
some portions of goat cmnry, and they were removed to
another place of shelter less filthy than Uie bnllock-shed, but
** otherwise most uncomfortable." From this they were by
dint of much entreaty moved into the fort of Adjhundia,
bat to a part of it where fresh air seldom reached, and they
were sometimes reduced almost to starvation-point. At
last, by dint of much entreaty, they induced Maun Singh
to send them forward. Meanwhile, one of the children of a
sergeant's wife had died from the e£Pects of exposure, &tigue,
and privation. Of this Mrs. Mill writes :]

^^ It was a scene to soften a heart of stone. There lay the
dead child in a sort of verandah-room, ofif the small apart*
ment which was our shelter. Windows were on all sides,
and all so broken, that enormous monkeys came running in
and out, and it was requisite to be ever on the watch that
they did not approach the body .... Maun Singh pro-
vided a coffin, and when all was ready for its being closed, I
offered up a prayer. Strange was it that that child was baptised
by my dearest husband, it belonging to his battery (no cler-
gyman being at Fyzabad). Its name, too, was John. When I
thus prayed over this poor child, I felt a certainty that it could
not be long ere I should have to part with my own sweet
baby, and yet I was calm. I could have gone through any-
thing. ' My heart seemed stone. That night I could not
remain in the place allotted to me. The air seemed suffo-
cating, and I thought for my poor little ones it would be
crueliy to allow them to remain .... My poor Charlie was
suffering much from fever. Two of the other women came,
and I was thankful for the assistance which one of them
rendered me, for I became so ill during the night, I was
utterly unable to do anything. Constant fainting and sick-
ness so prostrated me that I had not strength to attend to my
poor little ones at all. I forgot to say that when I got into
the room Maun Singh gave me, he brought a letter to me
from Mr. Clark, an officer I knew, who told me that he had
heard of me from Maun Singh, and had made arrangements
for me to be sent to a gentleman's house at Bustee — a place
forty miles from Qoruckpore. Ere I started that night Bajab

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


Mann Singh gave me cloth for dresses and a hundred
rupees, and altogether showed great kindness and oonsidera^
tion." — MS. Documents.

[The family to whom Mrs. Mill and her children were con-
signed was that of Mr. Osborne, whose journal has been
placed at my disposal. Under the date of July 8, I find the
foUowmg entry :]

''The party thus delivered from captivity consisted of
Mrs. Mill' (widow of Major Mill, late in command of the
Artillery at Fyzabad, drowned in his attempt to escape), and
her three children, one a baby and very ill from the efiects of
neglect and starvation : the others, Alice and Johnny, were
in tolerable health.* The others were the wives of Sergeant
Busher (the only survivor of the Mhowadabur massacre), of
Sergeants Mathews and Edwards, the latter being one of the
victims on that sad occasion ; they had amongst them all five
children of all ages, all of whom had been left behind during
the confusion attending the evacuation of Fyzabad on the
8th ultimo.

'' Our bungalow, which was not a very large one, was
now tolerably well filled, with just a round dozen of ftigi-
tives, but we felt most thankful that we were the means of
saving such a number, who from their accounts had suffered
great privations and distress whilst in close captivity, at the
most trying season of the Indian year. Maun Singh him-
self wished them well, but having such serious affairs of his
own to attend to, had made them over to a brother or some
relative, with injunctions to keep their presence a profound
secret, on which indeed their very existence depended ; they
were accordingly put into an old hut, with four mud walls
to enclose them, without door or window, for those had been
blocked up with mud, their scanty food being thrown into
them by lifting up a comer of the miserable thin thatched
roof, which barely protected them from the scorching rays of
a vertical sun. They had scarcely enough water given them
to allay their terrible thirst, ablution was out of the question^

♦ "Alice and Johnny" and Mrs. Mill herself are still living.

Digitized by LjOOQ IC


and what was given thenx was under cover of niglit. What
their anguish and sufferings must have been none but them-
selves could realise ; twelve or thirteen individuals immured
in such a space not more than twelve or fourteen feet square.
In that dreary inter%'al, one of the poor women lost a child,
and it was there buried underneath their feet, in a little grave
they had to scratch out of the soil with their fingers only, for
implements they had none.

" Mrs. Mill arrived in a state of exhaustion, utterly wea-
ried and worn out, scarcely able to get out of the palankeen ;
she had not a change of apparel of any kind, the scanty worn-
out dress she had on was fastened upon her in a most
clumsy manner a month ago, in fact, she had not removed
it the whole time ; her sufferings truly had been very
intense." — MS. DocumenU.


[With reference to the passage at page 608, relating to the
£ulure of the Fourth Column of attack (Delhi), Major (now
(General) Richard Lawrence has written a letter, which I
subjoin, with this prefatory observation that the writer does
not discriminate between the statements of the historian and
those of the officers, whose authority he has cited. When
Major Lawrence says that my account of the operations of
the Fourth Column is at variance with facts, he himself
makes a mis-statement. I quoted the ipsisaima verba of
Major (Sir Charles) Reid and Captain (Sir Henry) Norman,
who, I submit, are high authorities on such a point. I passed
no judgment upon the question at issue.]

" 48, Gloucester-square, March 2, 1876.

"Dear.Sir John Kaye, — Your account of the operations
of the Fourth Column of Attack on Delhy in September,
1857, reflects so injuriously on myself and those who served
under my command, and is so entirely at variance with facts,
that I must beg your consideration of what I have to say on
the subject and the evidence I produce in support thereof.

" I would premise that on the appearance of Major Norman's
Narrative of the Siege of Delhy I at once challenged its accuracy

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


80 fkr as it dealt with the operations of the Fourth Colmnn.
After a lengthened correspondence the subject was referred bj
Norman for the opinion of the late Sir Herbert Edwardes, who,
after due consideration of all the documents furnished by him
and myself, and inquiries of his own, delivered his views in a
Memorandum, dated the 14th of September, 1858. Sir
Herbert Edwardes deals very fully with the subject, and I
cannot do better than ask you to read it and to bear in
mind that the documentary evidence on which Sir H. Ed-
wardes founded his opinion was furnished in part by Major
Norman in support of his own views, which accorded with
those set forth in the third volume of your History. Also that
Edwardes had the advantage of having talked the matter over
with an eye-witness of the afiair, Qeneral Sir Neville Cham-
berlain, who was Adjutant-General of the Army at the time.
I have copies of the correspondence referred to by Sir H.
Edwardes, but it would seem needless to trouble you with
them. I may mention, however, that I also hold a letter
from Major Beid, in which he distinctly states that the con-
fusion which took place in the Fourth Colunm occurred when
he was wounded, and consequently, as shown in the evidence
quoted by Sir Herbert, some time before he gave over oonmiand
to me. I wish to call your attention to this point as, in yonr
book, it is stated that, up to the time of Major Beid mideing
over command to me, affairs were progressing very fiivourably,
&c. &C. I would also add that in his letter to me Major
Beid attaches no'blame whatever to the Cashmere Contingent,
although he may have heard and repeated rqporU prejudicial
to them.

" I must not, however, trespass further upon yoiir valuable
time, and will conclude with the expression of my hope that
you will let me know at an early date that, being now in pos-
session of ftdler particulars regarding the failure of the Fourth
Column, you wiU, in your next edition, put the affair in its
true colours before the public, or that you will publish this
letter in a foot-note with such remarks as you may consider
to be called for.

" Tours truly,

" R C, Lawrence.

«To Sir John Kaye, K.C.S.L''

Digitized by LjOOQ IC


[The Memorandum of Sir Herbert Edwardes is too long
for insertion in this place ; but as Major Lawrence's letter is
somewhat vague with respect to his grounds of complaint, it
may be convenient to state them categorically, as in the docu-
ment before me :]

" 1. Major Lawrence complains of three passages in a Nar-
rative of the Siege of Delhy, published by ?Iajor Norman,
the passages are as follows :

" * No. 4 Column under Major Eeid advanced from the
Subzee Mundi towards Kissengunge, the Cashmere Contingent
co-operating on its right The lattery however, was so sharply
attacked by the Lisurgents, who were in great force, that after
losing a great number of men and four guns, they were com-
pletely defeated and fell back to camp.

" * Major Eeid's Column met with the most strenuous op-
position, greatly increased dovhtlesa by the failure of the Cash-
mere Contingent.

"^Captain Muter, 60th Rifles, the next Senior Officer,
judiciously withdrew the Troops to tlieir former posts y at Hindoo
Bao's and in the Subzee Mundi.' "

[Before any observations are ipade by me on these passages,
it is right that further evidence placed before me should be ad-
duced. Li a note to page 608, 1 have referred to Mrs. Muter's
journals. I have received from that lady a letter in which she
says :]

" I have just forwarded two copies of the Transatlantic
containing the passages in my husband's life to which I wish
to direct your attention ; the first containing the outbreak at
Meerut and certain incidents to which reference is made in
your History. The second relates to the Fourth Column of
attack on Kishengunje. When we were at Murree, where my
husband was commanding the station — given the appointment
for that very service — Colonel Richard Lawrence was there,
and General Norman wrote a series of questions relating to this
attack on Kishengunje. Colonel Muter immediately wrote for
an interview with Colonel Lawrence to talk the matter over
and compare notes ; but Colonel Lawrence declined. Colonel

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


Muter wanted to bo perfectly accurate. At Delhi there was
no question about the facts ; and Colonel Muter, then Cap-
tain, sent in the Official Report of the attack which went in
with Sir Archdale Wilson's regular despatches, which may be
found in the records of the siege. Colonel Richard Lawrence
had no troops there, for the Cashmeeries made their attack in
another column. Surely the family have had enough of honours
without this attempt (several times before made) to deprive
my husband of the honours which are his due^ and on a sub-
ject, too, so easily proved by a reference to the original Re-
ports sent in at the time, I wanted, when I wrote my
* Travels,' to introduce my husband's part in the Fourth
Column, but he prevented me, saying I was writing my recol-
lections not his ; and the mistake has been that, in common
with all brave men, he has been too modest."

Colonel Muter's printed narrative is very interesting and
graphic in its details, but being written without any reference
to the pending controversy, adds but little to the elucidation
of the question of command. In the record of his services given
in Hart's Army List it is stated that Colonel Muter " succeeded
to the command of the attacking column on Kishengunje,
14th September, on the fall of Major Reid," and that for this
service he was made Brevet-Major. Colonel Boisragon writes
to me that he (then Captain H. Boisragon of the Kumaou
Battalion) " spoke to Major Reid whilst he was being carried
away by Motee, a Sepoy of his battalion, after he was dan-
gerously wounded in the head." The former officer (Bois-
ragon) *^ being under the impression that he might be the next
senior officer, led on the troops till he met Major Lawrence ;
shortly after which Captam Boisragon was wounded and com-
pelled to retire. On passing by the Subzi-Mundee he was
informed that Captain Muter had been there for some time."

With regard to this question of command, the statement
made, in my book, is this : " The officer next in rank was Major
Lawrence, who had brought down the Jummoo troops, ten days
before, to Delhi. As Reid was being carried to the rear, he
met the Punjabee officer, made over the command to him, and
explained his plan of attack." As this is, in eflfect, Lawrence's
own statement, I cannot see how it can be ^^ injurious to

niniti..H hw(^OOaIp.^


him/' Ilf is true that I said^ in a note, thut Major Lawrence
came to Delhi not in a military but in a political capacity.
This also is admitted by Lawrence himself to bo true. But
he informs me that^ on the evening before the assault, General
Wilson had requested him to take military command. This
gave him a military status and all the rights of seniority ;
and rendered him, after Heid was put hora de combat^ re-
sponsible for the movements, not merely of the Jummoo
troops, but of all the detachments of which the column was
composed. He had no special military status in connexion
with Rumbeer Singh's Contingent, which was commanded
by its own officers. I am not aware, indeed, that I have
written anything condemnatory of Major Lawrence or even
inferred that he had anything whatsoever to do with the disci-
pline of the Cashmere detachments. On the other hand, I
consider it praiseworthy upon his part that he should say
all that could be said in defence of our allies — for we are too
prone, in such cases as this, to lay the blame of a misadven-
ture upon troops not drilled and disciplined by ourselves. But
General Lawrence impugns the statement that up to the time
when Major Beid made over the command to Major Law-
rence all had gone well. Now Major Beid states this most dis-
tinctly in his official despatch as quoted in the text, and adds,
in a postscript, what I have not quoted — ^viz., " The Jummoo
troops, after I left the field, became perfectly disorganised.
They rushed into the main column and caused the greatest
coniusion, when it became difficult to distinguish friend from
foe." Neither in conversation nor in correspondence has
Major Beid ever said anything to me to modify this statement.
But I cannot see in what has been written by him or by
Captain Norman, and quoted in this book, anything that
reflects injuriously upon General Lawrence's character.

As to the question of command, after the fall of Major
Beid, it would appear that, in the uncertainty and conftision
which naturally attends the removal of a responsible leader
from the scene. Major Lawrence oommanded in one part of the
field and Captain Muter in another. The evidence of Colonel
Boisragon confirms this view of the case. That the Jummoo
troops fell into a state of great conftision, and did us much
injury, is not to be contradicted on any tenable grounds ; but

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


Major Lawrence is not to be censured for what he conid not
prevent. I cannot, however, admit that the evidence befcRe
me substantiates his assertion, that the coninsion which arose
was not attributable to the Cashmere auxiliaries any mora
than to our own detachments.

[Since the above was written and for the most part in type,
I have received a letter from Colonel Muter, of which the
following is the substance, detailing his own movements and
the events of which he was an eye-witness :]

" • • • • My company (Sixtieth Bifles) led ; subdivision
advanced in skirmishing order ; the other in support at head
of column. The movement delayed for guns which did not
come^ was then so rapid that the skirmbhers could do little to
cover. A bridge had to be crossed over a canal (dry) right
under the walls of Kishengunje, held by the enemy in great
strength, and the fire was heavy. Here Major Beid was
wounded, and his fall checked the advance of his Goorkahs
he was leading. The First Bengal Fusiliers passed through
at the double, and continued the rush in front or along the
wall, suffering from the fire as they made for the street
which opened to the left, and where the Sepoys were ga-
thered in force. Here in front of the Fusiliers, McBamett
was killed, as a Captain senior to me. Then the Sixty-first
came up, but the confrision had become great as detachment
after detachment got mingled on the other side of the bridge,
with the enemy all the time firing from loop-holes some fifty
yards away. Parallel with the canal ran a low stone wall,
behind which the exposed men sought shelter, and presently
that wall was lined and the fire against Kishengunje main-
tained. My men had joined in the rush of the detachments
as they came up, and had got mixed in the medley, which
made the position so peculiarly difficult for the various
officers in command — we could neither give orders nor get
them executed, and we were fighting wit}} this deep canal
(for its bed was steep and difficult) in our rear. The Guides
under Shebbeare had come up, and having escaped the con-
fusion into which the detachment had fidlen on the Mures
of the dashes made in succession to gain the street, woe

Digitized by LjOOQ IC


comparatively in order. Shebbeare said, ^ You had better
assume the command. We must make a desperate effort to
break away from this cover.' The * assembly' was
sounded, and soon a group of officers was gathered. Then
the ^ advance,' and waving our swords we went over the
wall, calling on the men to follow. The bugle notes aroused
the enemy, and the fire became furious — so withering that it
was almost impossible to live for a few minutes exposed to it.
The Adjutant of the Guides was killed as he mounted the
waU. Shebbeare was shot through the cheek, and the num->
ber who fell on the instant effectually checked the movement.
Having failed in this I went to our right, to see if we could
work round, and there I met the Engineer officer with
whom I consulted. To take ground to our right and thus
get out of the fire would be to expose our position on the
range to attack utterly denuded of troops, all being drawn '
off for the attack on Delhi. While speaking to the Engineer
officer, he was, as we all supposed, mortally wounded. Then
I returned to see how we could best withdraw, and heard
that Shebbeare had been again hit. It was under these
circumstances I decided to send a message up to the Crow's
Nest battery to open on the enemy regardless of us. A
young officer carried that message with great rapidity, and
while awaiting the opening of the big guns I encouraged the
withdrawal of the wounded, and by this time, for we had
now been long under fire, the force had considerably
dwindled. The young Artillery officer in charge of the
Crow's Nest had fortunately prepared for this emergency,
and he could see from his commanding height that our
attack had failed. With the utmost precision he pitched his
shrapnel over our heads, and enabled us to withdraw, with an
ease otherwise impossible. But for this the retreat might
have been disastrous..

*^ I have always given Lieutenant Evans great credit for his
part in this — ^both for being prepared, and for the way in
which the guns were handled in a fire of shrapnel directed a
few feet over our heads. The representation I made procured
for Shebbeare the Victoria Cross, which he had well earned.

" When Major Eeid got well, he took me over the groimd to
show what he intended. His design was to run dose up to

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


the wall and along it^ tmstlng to the enemy being unable to
shoot straight down — almost perpendicularly— on to the
street, up which if he could sweep, he hoped to get the Sepoys
on the run and keep them going. But he fell, and no one on
the field knew his plan."


A letter from Sir George Campbell having been published
in the Times newspaper, and I believe in other journals,
stating that a pamphlet is about to be published containing
a complete refutation of the so-called ** attack** upon the
Fifty-second Regiment, I thought it right to inform that
officer that I was about very shortly to publish a new edition
of this volume, and that I feared the information would not
be in time unless sent to me without delay. Tlie answer
which I received was to the effect that the pamphlet was in
the press. I regret, therefore, my inability, for want of the
required information, to reopen the question in the present


I feel some compunctious visitings, when I think that, in
die first edition of this volume, no special mention is made
of the gallantry of Captain A. W. Renny, of the Bengal
Artillery, in connexion with the rescue of the Delhi Magazine
after its capture by Wilson's troops on the 16th of September.
For this Renny received, some time afterwards, the Victoria
T^ross. The Official Report thus relates the act of gallantry:
" Early in the forenoon of that day a vigorous attack was made
on the post by the enemy, and was kept up with great
violence for some time without the sUghtest chance of success.
Under cover of a heavy cross-fire from the high houses on
the right fiank of the Magazine and from Selim-gurh and the
Palace, the enemy advanced to the high wall of the Magazine
and endeavoured to set fire to a thatched roof. The roof was
partially set fire to, which was extinguished at the spot by a

Digitized by LjOOQ IC


Sepoy of the Belooch Battalion, a soldier of the Sixty-first
Begiment having in vain attempted to do so. The roof
liaving been again set on fire, Captain Benny, with great
gallantry, mounted on the top of the wall of the Magazine,
and flung several shells with lighted fuzes into the midst of
the enemy, which had an almost immediate effect, as the
attack at once became feeble at that point/'

[Lieutenant Thackeray of the Engineers, for like service
at the same time, received the Victoria Cross.]


[In the first edition of this volume, some doubt was thrown
on the correctness of Franklin's statement, quoted by Moore,
that the famous words (translated), " Oh I if there be an
Elysium on earth," fee, were blazoned in letters of gold. I
stated that the letters were in black marble. This I took
from Sir Thomas Seaton's book. But I wrote to others
of the Delhi captors without obtaining any satisfactory
information on the subject. The officer who, of all others,
was most entitled, from the circumstances of his position at
the time of the capture, to ready credence, spoke doubtfully,
but inclined to the black marble, as in accordance with general
usage. All doubt, however, has been set at rest by the receipt
of the following letter from Delhi :]

"Delhi, East Indies, Feb. 29, 1876.
" SiK, — In your third volume (page 634, note) you have
made a trifling, but singular mistake. You say that the
famous inscription in the Dewan-Khas, ^If there bo a
Paradise on earth it is this, it is this,' is in letters of
black marble inside the hall. It is inside the hall, but the
letters are (as Moore says) gilt on the white marble wall,
and are about three feet below the cornice^ There are two
inscriptions, one on each end of the hall.

Online LibrarySir John William KayeA history of the Sepoy war in India, 1857-1858, Volume 3 → online text (page 57 of 61)