Sir John William Kaye.

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

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abad might rise, in spite of the steadfast loyalty
of the Nawab Nazim, and the insurgents gathering
strength as they went, might pour themselves,
down upon the capital. Why, then, not prevent a
calamity of so probable a kind by disarming the
Dinapore regiments ? It was a feat of no difficult
accomplishment. The Tenth Foot, aided by some of
the reinforcements passing up the river, which might
have been detained a little while for this special
service, could have easily overawed the Sepoy bat-
talions, and deprived them of all means of offence.
But the Governor-General believed that there was
still greater danger in disarming, and so the Sepoys
wer^ left with arms in their hands; and a regi-
ment of Europeans, when every English soldier
was worth his weight in gold, was kept at Dinapore
to watch them. And there were many in Bengal,
who, admiring and upholding the Governor-General,
and condemning the popular clamour which had
been raised against him as intemperate and imbecilci

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thought that he had erred in refusing, for so long a 1857.
time, to disarm the regiments at Dinapore. ^""®*

It is right, however, that the arguments with Argjumenta
which the Governor-General sustained his declared J^^„
reluctance to disarm the Dinapore Brigade should be
recorded- If the question before him had related
only to the measures best calculated for the protec-
tion of the indigo districts of Behar, the disarming
of the regiments (its successful accomplishment as-
sumed) might have been the stroke best tending
towards the deliverance of those whose lives and
properties there were in danger. But Lord Canning
had not merely to consider what was locally or in-
dividually best, but what was generally most condu-
cive to the interests of those under his charge. And
he could not but perceive that, however safe it might
be to disarm Native regiments in the neighbourhood
of European troops, the result might be dangerous
in the extreme to our people in other parts of the
country, where Sepoys abounded and not a detach-
ment of Europeans was to be seen. He was look-
ing anxiously for the arrival of fresh reinforcements,
when the game would be more in his own hands ;
but in the then destitute state of the Lower Pro-
vinces, it seemed to him and to the members of his
Council to be sounder policy to temporise. It could
not be wise, he thought, to precipitate a crisis, which
he had not the power successfully to confront. All
parts of Lower Bengal were dotted over with Sepoy
detachments, waiting eagerly for news, perhaps for
instructions, from Head-Quarters, and ready to break
out into rebellion at an hour's notice. And it had
been industriously circulated among them that dis-
arming was only another name for destruction, and
that when they had given up their muskets, they

VOL. in. p

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1867. would either be shot down or sent as prisoners

Jims, beyond the seas.

The intelligence, which Lord Canning had received
from the Greneral Officer commanding the Dinapore
Division, tended to confirm him in the impression that
an outbreak at that station was not to be expected.
The Dinapore On the 2nd of June, General Lloyd had written to
^^^^^ the Governor-General, saying: "Although no one
can now feel full confidence in the loyalty of the
Native troops generally, yet I believe that the regi-
ments here will remain quiet, unless some great
temptation or excitement should assail them, in
which case I fear that they could not be relied
upon."* A few days afterwards it seemed that the
hour of temptation had come ; for news had arrived
from Benares of the disarming of the regiments
there, and what had followed, and all the exertions
of the Dinapore officers were needed to allay the
alarm, which is so often the precursor of revolt
This passed ; but ere many days had lapsed. General
Lloyd, in reply to a suggestion from Government,
wrote to Lord Canning that the opium-godown at
Patna was in a good state of defence, and that he did
not believe that there was any danger of an attack
upon it, as no treasure was kept there. But, he
added, "the temptation to an outbreak consists in
the presence in the Collector's cutcherry at Patna of

* Writing at the end of May, the tlieir best to keep matters riprht, and
eomiuandant of one of the regi- the real state of the case fully ex-
ments— an exodlent Sepoy officer — plained to the officers and men ; and
said : "I am very happy to inform they are warned that the wild stories
Tou that the three Native regiments and lies purposely spread about by
here display the best temper, and all emissaries are only to alarm and dis-
duties are being regularly carried turbthem. They have been told that
on— parades, drills, and target prac- if they can seixe and give up any of
tice every morning. Not a nmrmnr these emissaries, they will be pro-
is heard about cartridges. All com- moted and rewarded with a money
manding officers and otners are doing present."

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8ome twenty lakhs of rupees — ^money brought in 1857.
from Chuprah, and expected to arrive from Arrah, ^^^
under the escort of Captain Rattray's men, to-morrow
morning.* The Treasury is under the charge of the
Nnjeebs, and a guard of Sikhs goes for its protection
during the night. The money is to be sent to Cal-
cutta by the first downward steamer. ... I believe
the worst feeling towards us prevails in Patna and
in Behar generally — particularly among the Ma-
homedan population and the sect of Wahabees. As
yet it is confined to words only ; but a very little
more excitement would cause it to show itself in
deeds.** The temptation, however, here anticipated
had been resisted, and the Native regiments, all
through the remaining weeks of June and the earlier
part of the month of July, had gone about their
accustomed duties without any outward manifesta-
tions of disloyalty. And General Lloyd had con-
tinued to report that he believed they would remain
true to their salt, unless some fresh temptation should
arise to elicit the momentary madness that had driven
80 many others to perdition.

It was not to be doubted, however, that, as time
went on, there was, apart fi'om these apprehensions of
the sudden falling of a spark upon the combustible
elem^its of Sepoy discontent^ a not unreasonable
cause of anxiety in the chronic state of fear into
which the Native regiments had subsided, owing to
reports industriously circulated among them that
the river steamers passing upwards were crowded
with large numbers of European troops, who would
bring upon them swift destruction under cover of

* Rattray, witli his Sikhs, reached vill be made of their excellent ser*
Paloa in the early momiiig of the vices.
h^ of Jane. Subsequent mention

F 2

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1857. the darkness of the night. In vain their oflScers tried
June. ^.Q reassure them. The panic grew. As had hap-
pened, and was yet to happen in other places, the
strong instinct of self-preservation moved them to
concert measures for their liberation from the toils
which it was believed were closing around them.
To allay these fears, orders were issued that each
regiment should furnish a picket, to be posted at
night in its Lines, ostensibly for the purpose of
refusing ingress to mutineers or deserters from other
regiments, and to seditious and intriguing persons of
all kinds who might seek to corrupt them. This
wise precaution was not without good results. It
seemed for awhile to pacify the men. If it did not
altogether restore confidence to them, it kept them
quiet for awhile. And it was the desire of the
General commanding to keep the Native regiments
together at a time when the Government were strain-
ing every eiFort to send upwards, along the Grand
Trunk Road, small detachments of Europeans in
wheeled carriages; for an outbreak of the Native
troops at Dinapore might have closed the road and
delayed the advance of our reinforcements in the
hour of our greatest need.
Excitement Meanwhile, irrespectively of all military disloyalty,
Di^ton?^"* there was increasing excitement in Behar. It has
been shown in an earlier chapter that, some years
before the general outbreak of mutiny in the ranks of
the Bengal Army, there had been dangerous plots de-
veloped, if not originated, in Patna for the corruption
of our Sepoy regiments, as the first step towards the
subversion of British power in the East.* In no place
were large and influential classes of the Native com-

♦ Vol i., p. 304-309.

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munity better prepared for a rising of the soldiery ; 1857.
and nowhere, when the crisis came, was there more of ^^^*
the excitement of ill-disguised sympathy. As a link
between them there were the Police — the Nujeebs
—a hybrid race, but a power in the State. The
fusion of the three, whichsoever might be the prime
mover of sedition, was dangerous in the extreme ;
and it was certain that an inert policy would not be
a successful one. So already the civil authorities
were striking heavy blows at incipient rebellion, and
endeavouring to overawe the suspected classes by
repressive measures, which engendered as much
hatred as fear.

The chief civil officer of the division was Mr. William Tay.
William Tayler, of whom mention has already been *
made. A man of varied accomplishments and of an
independent tone of thought and speech, he had
studied the Native character, as only it can be rightly
studied, with large-hearted toleration and catholicity
of sentiment. Fully alive to the melancholy fact of
the great gulf between the two races,* he had often
dwelt, in his public correspondence, on the evils
attending the self-imposed isolation of his countrymen,
and the want of sympathy, and therefore the want of
knowledge, in all that related to the feelings of the
people, of a large majority of official and non-official

* Nothing can be better thau the people in the hollow of their hands,

Mowing, which I extracted some but Ihey seldom, perhaps never,

years ago from one of Mr. Tayler*s know what it is to feel that the

official papers: "Separated as we minds of their rulers have ever been

aecessanly are from the millions directed to understand or sympa-

aroond ns, by oar habits and ideas, thise witb the ^reat heart that is

we are still mrther, and without the beating around them. The result is

same necessity, isolated from their an utter absence of those ties be-

iiearts bj the utter absence of all tween the governors and the ^o-

ndiVidoal feeling or sympathy. The vemed, that unbought loyally which

great mass see or hear of functionary is the strength of kings, and wliicli,

ifter/anctionary coming and going, with all his faults, tne Native of

tad holding the destinies of the India is well capable of feeling."

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1857. Englishmen in India. Nearly two years before the
June. outbreak of the mutiny, he had reported to Govern-
ment that, "owing to sundry causes, the minds of
the people in these districts are at present in a very-
restless and disaffected state, and they have generally-
conceived the idea that there is an intention on the
part of Government to conmience and carry through
a. systematic interference with their religion, their
caste, and their social customs." Utterances of this
kind are never very palatable to Government; and
Mr. Tayler was regarded in high places, if not actually
as an alarmist, as a man who suffered his imagination
to run away with him ; and although it is impossible
to govern well and wisely without it, nothing is more
detestable to Government than imagination. So it
happened that Mr. Tayler had fallen into disrepute
with some above him, and had excited the resent-
ments of some below him. He was a man of strong
convictions, not chary of speech ; and there was small
chance at any time of a division under his charge
subsiding into the drowsy, somnolent state which
gives so little official trouble, and is therefore so
greatly approved.

There was, a short time before the outburst of the
revolt, one especial matter which had been a source
of much conflict, and had resulted in the determina-
tion of the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal to remove
Mr. Tayler from the Patna Commissionership. It was
a question of the establishment of an Industrial Insti-
tution, to be supported by the landholders of the
several districts ; and Mr. Halliday was of opinion that
undue influence had been used to obtain the adhesion
of the Zemindars to a scheme which they did not
really approve. Into the merits of this question I do
not purpose to enter. Mr. Tayler manfully declared

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tiuit it appeared to him, after the storm of trouble 1857.
had burst, to be so paltry a matter that it should be J'**^-
dismissed from the consideration of the local officers.
But it is necessary to the right, understanding of
what follows that the general position of affairs, as
tiius described, should be known to the reader. It
was €ui unfortunate circumstance that the Commis-
sioner's authority should have been weakened by the
notoriety of the displeasure of his Government There
were undoubtedly two parties in Patna ; and a house
divided against itself is always infirm. When hostile
multitudes are swarming around us, nothing but the
united action of such handfub of Englishmen as we
can muster to oppose them, can ever work out perfect

The chief out-stations of the Patna Division were Alarm in tho
at Chuprah, Arrah, Mozufferpore, Gya, and Mote- ^*'*^*"-
hmree.* There resided the usual staff of administra-
tors — judges, collectors, magistrates, and opium-agents
— and under their charge were the gaols, and trea-
suries, and godowns, the repletion of which bespoke
the activity wherewith they pursued their callings.
The guardianship of these was intrusted to the Police.
It would have been in favour of our people that no
detachments of Sepoys were posted at these stations,
if the Nujeebs had been trustworthy; but it was
generally felt that their fidelity would not survive
an outbreak of the soldiery, and they might, any
day, following the suit of their military brethren,
release the prisoners in the gaols, carry off the coin
in the treasuries, and murder every Christian in the
district When, therefore, news came that Delhi

* The districts were Saran, Shah- were at Patna^ whioh gare its name
abad, Hrhoot, Behar, and Chum- also to a diatnot.
pamm. Tiie civil head-quarters

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1857. was in the hands of the insurgents, and no news
June. came, after waiting awhile for it, that the English
had recovered the city and crushed the short-lived
power of the Mogul, there was considerable uneasi-
ness in the minds of all the English inhabitants of
Behar. At first, there was the comforting reflection
to sustain them, that the Native gentry were on their
side — ^that the influential Zemindars and others
would place all their resources at the disposal of our
people. This belief, however, soon passed away.
It is curious to mark in the private or demi-official
correspondence of the day, how, as time went on,
the confidence entertained by our civil officers in the
loyalty of the local gentry gradually waned and at
last disappeared. The month of May had not come
to a close before stories began to reach the Commis-
sioner from different out-stations, showing how great
was the mistrust that was beginning to overshadow
the minds of our public functionaries. Just ten days
after the outbreak at Meerut, one wrote to Mr. Tayler,
saying! ^^A Bazaar report was abroad that the
Persian Army was close to Lahore, and hourly ex-
pected, and that all was up with the British in India.
This is enough to alarm the loyal, as well as to en-
courage the disaffected. There is another story that
I heard privately, and some weight may be attached
to it, namely, that Maun Singh, the outlaw of Oude,
is in Nepaul, and has been down on our frontier
making observations and arrangements ; that he ex-
cited the sympathy of many in our provinces, and
that our great Rajahs in those parts are not to be
depended upon for a moment ; that they encourage
revolt, though not, perhaps, ready to join in it, unless

an invading army should come I know the

Hutwah man has a mooktear at Lucknow. For what

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le object? .... You may depend upon it 1857.
that the cartridge question is all fudge. Some deeper •^^"^•
scheme than that has been laid." Early in June, one
erf our magistrates wrote from Gya to the Secretary
to the Bengal Grovernment, saying: "I have reason
to believe that the Mahomedans throughout this
province are greatly disaffected ; they are anxiously
looking out for news from the North-West, exag-
gerating matters, and publishing pro hmw publico all
they hear. In Gya this feeling has shown itself to a
great extent" And again, some days later: "My
last mentioned state of feeling up to 11th. From
that time the people have become much more dis-
affected. Reports were duly received that Bud-
mashes and numbers of the Mahomedan population,
m parties, were strolling about, poisoning the minds
of their neighbours with wild stories of our reign
having come to its conclusion, the massacre of the
Europeans in the North-West, &c. ; and in many
other ways was the animus but too apparent, and ex-
citement was thus shown to be at its highest pitch,

bordering upon an outbreak It is reported

from several places in my jurisdiction that men are
wandering about in the guise of Fakeers and tam-
pering with the villagers." And on the same day,
the chief civU officer of Chuprah wrote to the Com-
missioner : " There is no concealing the present con-
dition of the Chuprah people, and it requires but
the tidings of a disturbance at Dinapore to make
the Mussulmans, aided by the Nujeebs, rise."*

• Another letter, written from did in Delhi was to loot every

Chuprah (Maj 25th), said : "I have, wealthy man. I also informed them

these h»t two days, been visited by that the regiments which were on

munbers of the Natives, and I have their way to China would now proba-

been ezplainine the whole matter to bly pay Calcutta a visit, and that in a

them — ^unpressing ii{)on the wealthy few days there \rou1d be a European

men that the first thing the Sepoys force there sufficient to conquer the

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Alarm at

June 7.

At the chief station of Patna there was the greatest
alarm of all. It was not unreasonably anticipated
that if the Dinapore regiments should revolt, they
would pour themselves upon Patna with a great
destruction of property and of life. At the end of
the first week of June the chronic alarm of the Euro-
peans culminated in an acute paroxysm of panic.
A report had arrived from Dinapore that the Sepoys
were expected to mutiny in the course of the night,
Then our people asked what was to be done ? Mr.
Tayler, to whom all resorted for guidance in this
emergency, counselled concentration in his own
house. And in a little while the spacious residence
of the Commissioner and his family was gorged to
repletion.* The moon rose that night on a scene of
strange bewilderment and confusion. Outside the
house, a large body of Nujeebs, in their dark-green
dresses, were drawn up under their English chief ;f
and a guard, from Holmes's Irregulars, warlike and
picturesque, was mounted at the chief entrance. J

whole of India over again." ....
"There are some disaffected people
at work, and I only wish that I
conld get hold of them. I have my
eye upon one or two; but they
seem to be raking up all the old
causes of complaint. Twice to-day
I have been asked why the Gro-
yemment wish to cut off the pri-
soners' hair and beards, and tliough
I explained to them that the Mus-
sulman's beard was only to be
clipped, and that four fingers'
breadth was to be left, they were
not satisfied, and said, ' One day it
will be four, the next two fingers,
and then it will be cut off ulto-
gether.' "

♦ " My wife and myself were in a
curricle when we received the news;
we drove off nt once to the houses of
the nearest residents and informed
them quietly of the plan decided

u^on, begging them to come over
without delay, bag and baggage, to
the rendezvous; messengers were
at the same time despatched to warn
the more distant residents. In less
than an hour almost every man,
woman, and cfliild (excepting some
few who lived close to the opium-
godown and found refuge there)
were hurrying helter-skelter to our
house, followed Dy a heavy phalanx
of beds, clothes, pillows, mattresses,
and other domestic impedimenta."
— Tayler' 8 Patna Crisis,

t Major Nation — whence they
came, in the language of the pro-
vince, to be called the National

t The head-quarters of Holmes's
regiment was at Segowlie. An ac-
count of this corps will be found in
subsequent pages of the narrative.

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Ii^de, our people, men, women, and children, were ^^57.
huddling together, some confident and some scared.
The usual strong contrasts that a season of danger
commonly evokes were strikingly developed by the
criaa. Some looked to the locks of their guns or
felt the edges of their swords ; some resigned them-
selves tranquilly to their fate. Some groaned in
^irit ; some laughed regardless of their doom. And
whilst some elders were examining the ladders which
led to the roof of the house, and preparing them-
selves for a sudden ascent, young men and maidens,
in the Commissioner's garden, could not resist a little
moonlit flirtation, although it might be their last.*

But there was no need of the ladders — ^no use for
the guns. As the night advanced, the danger seemed
to thicken. Letters from Dinapore had been received
by the Nujeebs, saying that the Sepoy regiments were
all of one mind, that they were coming down upon
Patna, and that if the Police battalions would join
them, success would be assured. With the exception
of a iew troopers from Segowlie, the Nujeebs were
the sole protection of our people. The gloom, there-
fore, grew darker and denser. But never were the
acriptural words, " Heaviness may endure for a night,
but joy Cometh in the morning," more signally veri-
fied than in this Patna crisis. There was hourly
expectation of the arrival of Captain Rattray's well-
known and much-trusted regiment of Sikh Irregulars.
The Conrniissioner had already sent urgent missives
to Rattray to hasten his advance, and on that very

♦ M

On the garden side, oar scandalised the more nerrous por-

daughters, with some other girls tion of the assemblage by their

and the jnreniles among the eentle- laugliter and merriment. My wife

loen, in spite of the hnbbno and was, as is her wont, engaged in

ignorant of the real danger, were ministering to the comfoii of all

eojojiog the open walks and moonlit who had taken shelter in the honse.'*

grass of the garden, and Bomewhat '^Tajfkr^s Patna CritU,

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1837. afternoon he had despatched fresh messengers, in the
June. light-wheeled carriages of the country, to urge and
to assist the rapid progress of the regiment. And
when about the hour of dawn, Rattray himself, with
his picturesque accoutrements, his high jack-boots,
and his long sword, clanked into the Commissioner's
house, and announced that his men were behind
him, there was a general feeling of deliverance. But
in fact there was no danger from which the Euro-
pean community of Patna were to be delivered.
The Dinapore regiments did not rise ; and next
morning the strange assembly of people that had been
gathered together in the Commissioner's house re-
turned, safe and hopeful, to their several homes.

Repressive There was not a man in the country more disposed
measures. towards strenuous action than Mr. William Tayler.
The instructions which he issued to his subordinates
all through the months of June and July were of the
most encouraging and assuring kind. He exhorted
all men to put on a bold front, to maintain their
posts, and to crush all incipient sedition with the
strong arm of authority. It was in these words that
he wrote to the chief civil officer of Tirhoot, and all

Online LibrarySir John William KayeA history of the Sepoy war in India, 1857-1858, Volume 3 → online text (page 7 of 61)