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Chapter XL, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 5

Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5>

The mutiny at Jhansi was second only in its horrors to those of Delhi and Cawnpore. One incident remains to be told. It was reported in a private letter and vouched for by the writer, and we give it as we find it in the mass of correspondence published in 1857. "It is all true about poor Frank Gordon," says the writer. "He, Alick Skene, his wife, and a few peons, managed to get into a small round tower when the disturbance began; the children and all the rest were in other parts of the fort - altogether sixty. Gordon had a regular battery of guns, also revolvers, and he and Skene picked off the rebels as fast as they could fire, Mrs. Skene loading, for them. The peons say they never missed once, and before it was all over, they killed thirty-seven, besides many wounded. The rebels, after butchering all in the fort, brought ladders against the tower, and commenced swarming up. Frank Gordon was shot through the forehead and killed at once. Skene then saw it was of no use going on any more; so he kissed his wife, shot her, and then himself. " The remainder of the regiments which mutinied at Jhansi rose on their officers a few days afterwards at Nowgong. But here some eighty Sepoys protected part of the Europeans, and after suffering incredible hardships, during which the men behaved heroically - caring first for the women and next for themselves - those who survived the fatigue and the sun, and the rough weapons of merciless villagers, who murdered, them for plunder, reached Banda, after a weary march of nearly a hundred miles. Thither also had come a body of civilians from Futtehpore, in the Doab, the first station on the railway from Allahabad. At Futtehpore was a company of Sepoys, belonging to a regiment which had just mutinied at Allahabad. Mr. Tucker, the magistrate, had fortified his house, sleeping on the flat roof, and with him, for a time, all the others remained. Their gallant bearing and heavy armament deterred the mutineers' from attack, and in a lull of hostility, all, save Robert Tucker, crossed the Jumna and made for Banda, whither they arrived. Tucker would not desert his post. Like young Wedderburn at Hissar, he was steadfast. Seeing him alone, the ruffians - not Sepoys only but felons - led by the deputy-collector, a Mahometan in civil employ - against this one man the whole horde rushed forward, bent on capturing and trying him. But they paid dearly. Before he was caught, he killed sixteen of his assailants. When they had bound him, they tried him, found him guilty, and executed him by cutting, off his hands, his feet, and his head! „ This occurred on the 10th of June.

In the interval between the 4th and the 10th, the whole of the troops at Cawnpore, and throughout Oude, had risen in revolt. Cawnpore demands a separate story, and we turn again to Oude.

There were five considerable stations. On the 8th the troops at every one became their own masters. The military station in the Bareytch division, north of Lucknow, was Secrora. The Commissioner of the Division, Mr. Wingfield, now Chief Commissioner of Oude, was at Secrora. Feeling that the two regiments and battery there would mutiny, the ladies and children were sent by the officers to Lucknow on the 7th, and were met halfway by a body of Sikhs and volunteer horse, and taken to the residency. Mr. Wingfield rode off to Gonda, determined to take refuge at Bulrampore. The next day all the remaining officers, except Lieutenant Bonham, started for Gonda, for the troops rose and bade them go. Lieutenant Bonham was-protected by his men for a day. Then he, too, was obliged to leave, and he made his way across country to Lucknow. The Europeans at Gonda were now forced to retreat, and they were fortunate in finding shelter at. Bulrampore, and they finally got into Gorruckpore,. and were saved. But three officers, all in the civil service, retreating from Bareytch disguised as natives, were recognised at the main ferry over the Gogra, and all murdered, after they had made a gallant defence. The civil servants from Mullaon joined Captain Hearsey, of whom and whose fate we have already spoken.

The, great division of Fyzabad lies to the south-east of Lucknow, and extends from the Ganges to the Gogra. The chief station was Fyzabad, a town on the left bank of the Gogra, just then notorious, for the sharp quarrel which had occurred in the previous February between the Moslems and Hindoos. Here lay in gaol that moulvie who had traversed Hindostan preaching sedition, and whose daring had compelled the Government to employ force against him, and to put him in prison. There, were two regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and a horse battery at Fyzabad. These were known to be so disposed to mutiny that the civilians had sent their wives and children to Shahgunge, a fort belonging to Rajah Maun Sing, a powerful talookdar. Several other European women and children joined them, but some of the officers' wives remained. On the 8th it was clear that the dreaded moment was at hand. Mutineers were coming up the river from Gorruckpore and Azimghur, notably, the 17th Native Infantry, whose agents entered the lines at Fyzabad, and summoned the troops there to join. This they did on the night of the 8th. They did not go through the form of pretending a grievance, but said they were strong enough, to turn us out of the country, and intended to do it." Nevertheless, these men would not murder their officers. They provided them with money and boats wherewith to descend the Gogra, and then, with horrible treachery, instigated the 17th to waylay the boats at Begumgunge, and kill the Europeans. Twenty officers and sergeants and one lady embarked in four boats. Of these only six escaped; for as the boats approached Begumgunge, the Sepoys of the 17th opened a heavy fire on the fugitives. Some fell wounded, others were killed. Two of the boats grounded, and the fugitives got ashore. Colonel Goldney, the commissioner, now told all who could to run off, remarking that he was too old to run. An ancient man, of long service and gallant bearing, when he was taken into the mutineer camp, he said, " I am an old man, will you disgrace yourselves by my murder? " They did disgrace themselves, for they shot him where he stood. Those who ran fell one by one, some from exhaustion; some were drowned crossing rivers, others were slain. Out of sixteen officers and sergeants, one of the latter, Mr. Busher, alone escaped, after a series of romantic adventures. He owed his safety to his strength, his courage, his perseverance, and the help of a solitary Sepoy, Teg Ally Khan, who followed the officers in their flight. At one time Busher had to run the gauntlet of an armed village, where all except himself and the Sepoy were slain; at another he was the guest of a Brahmin; then a captive of one whom he calls Bully Sing, and paraded about from village to village, and set in the stocks as an exhibition. But in the end the planters of Gorruckpore got him out of the hands of the heathen, and when he was in safety, Teg Ally Khan turned up with a whole skin. The other civilians and military men of the Fyzabad station, strangely enough, got safely down the Gogra, with their wives and children; some by the sole aid of their wits, others by the help of Maun Sing and other talookdars; but all suffered severely from labour, and anxiety, and want of food. Mrs. Mills, wife of Major Mills, with her three children, wandered eight days, from village to village, on foot, under a June sun. At length Maun Sing heard of her troubles, brought her relief, and sent her to Gorruckpore.

At Sultanpore were Fisher's Irregulars and two foot regiments. Colonel Fisher, the commandant, sent away the ladies and children, who, befriended by Madho Sing, reached Allahabad, plundered, but alive. But the Military Police shot Colonel Fisher, his own men, who "liked him," looking on. They slew Captain Gibbings, and ordered Lieutenant Tucker to be gone. This officer took refuge with Roostum Sah of Deyrah, where he was joined by other fugitives, all of whom were taken safely to Benares under a native escort sent up by Mr. Carre Tucker, commissioner. Mr. Block and Mr. Stroyan were also cruelly and treacherously murdered near Sultan- pore. The British at Salone on the Sye, and Durriabad, north of the Goomtee, receiving protection from zemindars and talookdars, their lives were preserved. It was thus that, in ten days, all the native troops in Oude freed themselves from British control; and by a sort of common impulse directed their steps towards Newabgunge Bara Baukee, which became the point of concentration for the meditated attack on Lucknow. Here, about twenty miles from the handful of men under Sir Henry Lawrence, the Oude regiments gathered together, and in that quarter, at Chinhut, on the road to Newabgunge, we shall meet them again.

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