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Chapter XL, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 3

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The morning dawned, and with it came the parade of the whole force. A body of Mooltanee Horse and a hundred levies from Kohat arrived that morning. The cantonment stretched along east and west to the west and north of Peshawar city, and facing the Khyber Pass. On the east was the fort, and partly along the rear ran a belt of peach-gardens. The plan of the brigadier was astute and effective. He caused each of the doomed native regiments to parade on its own ground. While they were getting under arms, the British regiments and artillery, forming two brigades, marched down upon them, and the Mooltanee Horse and Kohat men appeared in the rear. Resistance was impossible. The cowed mutineers at once obeyed the command to "pile arms." Then the arms were carried off. "Colonel Nicholson," writes Mr. Cooper, "had opportunely called in the chiefs of the valley, and as the disarming was being carried on, clouds of Afghan horsemen darkened the horizon. So also the peach-gardens around swarmed with armed men - Peshawurrees and hill tribes, all eager to take either side as the issue might be. The environs of the station, from the cantonment to the city, were literally black with the raffish multitude, on the alert for pillage and murder on the first sign." Pillage and murder were not to be. -The British had won again. While the issue was doubtful, the chiefs of the valley had refused to take sides. " Show us that you are stronger," they said, "and there shall be no lack of support." The demonstration of strength was given. On that very day recruits came in by the hundred. " The chiefs of the valley crowded in upon General Cotton, flung their swords on the ground at his feet, and tendered the services of them selves and their vassals." S ach it is to be morally intrepid, at the right moment and in the right way.

More had to be done, for as we have said the 55th were in open mutiny at Nowshera and Hotee Murdan. The first named station lies on the road from Peshawur through Attock on the Indus to Rawul Pindee and Lahore. The second lies to the north over the Cabul river, which, twisting down through the rocky bottom of I the Khyber, joins the Indus near Attock. The 55th had marched to Nowshera on the 13th. The 27th Foot had gone eastward. The Guides were hurrying towards Delhi. The 55th held Hotee Murdan, had two companies at Nowshera, and one on the right bank of the Indus opposite Attock. There, too, were a hundred Pathans, under Futteh Khan, once a captain in the Guides, and in the fort of Attock were the 5th Punjabees. The 55th men opposite Attock tried to seduce the Pathans from their allegiance; but these were true, and revealed the secret. Finding they were discovered, the 55th men mutinied, and made for Nowshera. Here they were met and captured by the 10th Irregulars, but from these they were rescued by their comrades in the station. It happened that Lieutenant Davies had under his orders a few men of the 27th Foot, who were guarding the sick, and the women and children of the regiment, and these, though few in number displayed so bold a front that the mutineers recoiled, and hurried away to Hotee Murdan. But, finding that the bridge of boats over the Cabul river had been broken, the greater part marched back, and only a few joined their regiment. When the 55th heard that a force was coming against them, they prepared to hurry off into the hills.

The force was nearer than they imagined. The 5th Punjabees had been marched at once to Nowshera, and were now approaching Hotee Murdan. The whole of the 27th Foot had returned to the Indus by forced marches, and were now at Nowshera, delighted to find their women and children alive. Colonel Chute and Nicholson himself were coming up from Peshawur with 800 men and a mountain battery. But these had been delayed, and when the 55th saw the Punjabees arrive, they marched off at once to the mountains, while their colonel, Henry Spottiswoode, who had believed in their fidelity to the last, shot himself in his quarters. The delay of the Peshawur column gave the mutineers a fair start. But Nicholson soon got on their track. Followed by a mere handful of his own native troopers, he dashed headlong into the rear of the fugitive column. The Sepoys resisted, but could not stand against a charge driven home. Nicholson took 120 prisoners and killed 100 men. The irregulars with him did not fight well, and night falling, he had to withdraw from pursuit. The 55th met with strange adventures in the hills, and ultimately scarcely a man escaped alive; for those who were not made slaves by the mountaineers were captured when they attempted, at a later period, to re-enter the Punjab.

From Hotee Murdan, the Peshawur column, under Colonel Chute, moved upon the three forts, garrisoned by the 64th Native Infantry and the Khelat-i-Gilzies. Chute reached the first fort, Aboozai, and easily disarmed the men of the 64th who were there. He was moving on to Shubkudder, when an incident occurred there which admirably illustrates the character of the crisis, and the kind of men who were on the spot to deal with it. "An armed Sepoy of the regiment [the Gilzies] had sprung forward, musket in hand, knocked down the sentry over the magazine, and shouted to his comrades to arm, for ' Nicholson Sahib is come to Aboozai, and Will blow us all away from guns! Now is our time!' Captain Mundy, the commandant of the regiment, was in his own quarters in the fort; he heard the disturbance, and, seizing his pistol, rushed down to see the cause. On the steps he was met by some twenty Sepoys, who forcibly held him back. His first thought was that the whole regiment had ' gone,' and he raised his pistol, resolved to sell his life as dearly as he could; when some of them said to him, ' No, sahib, you shall not go near that man; his musket is loaded.' A jemadar, who had been in the act of cooking his dinner, rushed by for his musket, but as he passed the magazine he was shot dead by the mutineer. The musket being discharged, the faithful Sepoys now released Captain Mundy, who went towards the man and twice tried to fire his pistol. Twice it missed fire. The mutineer was beginning to re-load, when Captain Mundy, calling out to some of the quarter-guard, ordered them to load and ' fire.' Not a man hesitated; the mutineer fell dead, pierced by four bullets. A roll-call was at once held, but no one was missing. There was clearly no sympathy with the mutineer. Bad spirits and traitors there probably were in the regiment, but the majority were good men and true, and the prompt, bold conduct of Mundy gave the bad no time to act, and carried all the good with him. As the men themselves said, ' he had saved the regiment and their good name.' The peril was imminent, not only that Captain Mundy - and Mrs. Mundy, who was in the fort at the time - would have been shot down, or even that the magazine, had a single shot been fired into it, would have blown the whole fort into the air, but that the Gilzies having gone, nothing could have saved the country. Providentially, all was averted, and the regiment bore itself so nobly throughout those months of danger, that the General (Cotton) published an order, in which he expressly declared that "not the slightest suspicion rested on the Gilzies. Thus the fort of Shubkuddur was saved." Colonel Chute came up the next day, and disarmed the men of the 64th, both in that fort and in Fort Michnee. Peshawur was no longer in danger; the whole of the trans-Indus region had been secured. It had been shown that although the Irregular Hindostanee Cavalry could not be trusted, yet that the Punjabees were true, for the men of the 5th had not hesitated a moment to shoot a cavalry mutineer, who had incited his comrades to murder an officer. Improving on their bold policy, the leaders at Peshawur levied new corps among the frontier tribes - hitherto our direst foes - and found them trusty warriors; drew enough men from the British Infantry to make a squadron of horse, and mounted them on the chargers of the disarmed native cavalry; formed in like manner a battery, taking the Sikhs out of the disarmed regiments, rearmed them, and placed them in a separate regiment. The old Sikh leaders eagerly came forward, and soon there was the nucleus of a new and trusty native army of Sikhs and Punjabees. It is recorded of a frontier chief that when he heard the story of the Meerut and Delhi atrocities, filled with rage, he spat on the ground, and said with wrath, " Who can charge us with ever touching a helpless woman or defenceless child? No! we would not do it, not for a prince's ransom." And it was true. Such were the men won over, and such the means employed by the inventive and undaunted British leaders in the Punjab at this time. More we shall have to tell later.

It is time to turn to other scenes, and show how the great drama unfolded itself, until all the north-west, and Oude, and Central India, and even parts of Behar were overrun by mutineers, and the shameful treachery of a pampered soldiery led on a sort of national insurrection. At the end of May, the Lawrences and Montgomeries were masters of the Punjab. They had yet severe struggles before them; they had yet to make up for want of numbers by coolness, sleepless vigilance, unflinching resolve, unrelenting severity, and boundless pluck. They had yet to strike down overt mutiny, before they could supply the men that gave the final blow to Delhi. But this they were prepared to do; this they did.

The north-west was now completely cut off from Calcutta. The 9th Native Infantry, stationed at different towns on the trunk road between Agra and Delhi, mutinied on the 20th, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of May, and marched to Delhi. Some gallant Europeans - Mr. Patterson Sanders, a zemindar of those parts, among them - forming a little squadron of cavalry, remained for months afterwards about Allyghur; but with this exception British rule ceased in the Doab, below Delhi. At Agra, indeed, the British stood out bravely amid a sea of mutiny roaring around them, suffered their moments of peril - as we shall see - had their combats and hair-breadth escapes, but nevertheless survived. At the end of May mutinies increased on all sides. Let the reader bear in mind that, from the 10th of May onward, there were, day after day, incessant explosions of Sepoy regiments, sometimes bloody and cruel, sometimes mild - that is, not followed by the slaughter of many of our kin. The track of the mutiny ran from the Delhi country eastward, through the Doab into Behar, and north and south, marking Rohilcund and Oude, and Central India, with many bloody spots; for the Sepoys were many, and the British were few - so few, that they could be reckoned by hundreds, while their exasperated foes were numbered by thousands and tens of thousands. While the Delhi field force was getting itself together, siege train and all, while the men of the Punjab were fighting their great fight with their Sepoys, the military revolution was growing supreme in every province garrisoned by Hindostanees, until only Agra and Lucknow, like rocks in that turbulent ocean, were left to bear the English flag and shelter men of English race. Before following the army to Delhi, let us look nearer at the mutiny, now blazing so far and wide.

We shall take the events in chronological order. On the 16th of May the native sappers stationed at Roorkee were ordered to march to Meerut. They mutinied, slew Captain Eraser, and strode away to Delhi. On the 20th, a spy, caught and surrendered by the 9th Native Infantry at Allyghur, was hung in the presence of the regiment, the bulk of whom seemed to approve. But one suddenly crying, as he pointed to the corpse, "Behold a martyr to our religion!" the whole of the companies present broke into mutiny. They spared the officers, but plundered the place, liberated the convicts, and marched to Delhi. In four days the whole regiment was in revolt; but it is distinguished among other regiments, because it did not commit murder. At Myrpoorie, Lieutenant de Kantzow rendered himself conspicuous by his sterling courage. He stood up against the mutineers, exhorting, remonstrating, threatening. When some pointed their muskets at him, he folded his arms and bade them fire if they dared. When they tried to storm the treasury, he was there to resist, and, aided by the gaol-guard, he induced the raging multitude to turn away. They went off to Delhi, and De Kantzow received the thanks of Lord Canning, and a command. On the 28th the Hurrianah battalion rose at Hansi and Hissar, a few miles south-west of the great road from Delhi to Kurnaul, and murdered every European they could overpower; and on the same day, showing how the mutineers acted from a common feeling, the 15th and 30th Native Infantry stationed at Nusseerabad, in Bajpootana, seized their arms and a native battery, and began to shed blood. The 1st Bombay Lancers charged them, but without effect, and then retreated, with the surviving Europeans, to a place of safety, while the mutineers went forth towards the common centre, Delhi.

Two days after, the Lucknow Brigade showed itself in its true colours; within twelve hours the Bareilly Brigade revolted, and within a week the whole of Rohilcund and the whole of Oude, save Lucknow, had been wrested from British rule. Lucknow city stands on the right bank of the Goomtee, one of the tributaries of the sacred Ganges. It is a city of palaces, beautiful and imposing, set in a sea of cultivation, surrounded by trees and gardens and cultivated fields; a city beautiful exceedingly, and the seat of every wickedness under the sun. Stretching along the river, it filled the gazer with delight; but it was a whited sepulchre, a very Sodom in the garden of India. The residency, soon to become so famous, stands on the west, a cluster of strong buildings, not far from the river. Two bridges cross the stream, an iron bridge near the residency, a stone bridge higher up. Above the residency was the fort of Muchee Bowun; and over the bridge on the left bank, a few miles distant, were the native lines. Within the city was a most turbulent population; without, a camp swarming with mutinous Sepoys. The only men who could be trusted wholly were the 32nd Foot and the Europeans, civilians, merchants, and traders dwelling in Lucknow. The chief commissioner was Sir Henry Lawrence, the Financial Commissioner, Mr. Gubbins. Another commissioner was Major Banks. Colonel Inglis commanded the 32nd Foot, and Brigadier Gray the native troops. In and near the cantonments were 4,800 foot, and 2,100 horse, with two batteries of artillery. In the whole of Oude there were 19,200 native troops, and only one British regiment and one company of British artillery, in all 800 men. These last were at Lucknow. Thus, there were upwards of twenty to one against us. But in the mutinies about to occur, all our enemies did not turn upon us at once; and such preparations had been made to secure a stronghold, that, when nearly all had fallen away, there still remained a place of refuge for the civilians and traders, and a place for all to defend.

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