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Chapter XLV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 4


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In the midst of these great successes - this fall of Delhi, this capture of the king, this stern but just execution of the scoundrel princes of his house - John Nicholson died. He lingered nine days on his bed of pain. He expired on the 23rd, in his thirty-fifth year. This was our greatest loss. He was a born general. From his earliest youth he had shown very high capacity. His career in India had been one long proof that those who looked to him for great actions were not mistaken. When the Affghans stormed Ghuznee, Nicholson, then quite a stripling, says Mr. Kaye, " drove them thrice back beyond the walls, at the point of the bayonet, before he would listen to the order given him to make his company lay down their arms: he at length obeyed, and gave up his sword with bitter tears." In later years the savages of Bunnoo, whom he reduced to order and peace, declared that the good Mahometans of the historic age must have been "just like Nikkul Seyn." "If you visit the fields of Goojerat or Chillianwallah," writes Herbert Edwardes, " the country people begin their story of the battles thus - ' Nikkul Seyn stood just there' " "A brotherhood of fakirs in Huzara," says the same accomplished soldier, " abandoned all forms of Asiatic monachism, and commenced the worship of Nikkul Seyn, which they still continue. Repeatedly they have met John Nicholson since, and fallen at his feet as their Gooroo (spiritual guide). He has flogged them soundly on every occasion, and sometimes imprisoned them; but the sect of the Nikkul Seynees remains as devoted as ever." Lord Dalhousie said of Nicholson that his name was "a tower of strength." We have seen how strong and skilful and brave he was, and may imagine how those mourned his death who knew him so well. His remains were buried close to Delhi, and an inscription on a marble slab tells how and where he fell. Nor was his the only loss. On the 19th, Mr. Hervey Greathed was seized with cholera in Delhi, and died in a few hours. His grave is by the side of that -where the corpse of Nicholson lies.

Delhi captured, the king in captivity, the Sepoy army routed, broken, demoralised - and all without any aid from England - the back of the mutiny in the Northwest was broken. This was the work of Lawrence, and Edwardes, and Montgomery, and the able men who were their assistants. That Delhi did not fall a moment too soon is shown by the fact that, contemporaneously with its fall, a rebellion broke out in Gogaira, the country between Mooltan and Lahore, a wilderness inhabited by predatory tribes. Nearly two months were occupied in quenching this fresh flame; but long before that the road to Mooltan was cleared. The incident itself showed what combustible material was scattered over the Punjab. Had Delhi not been taken, there would have been, perhaps, a general revolt. As it was, the "good fortune" of the British filled the people with awe and admirations for nothing succeeds like success, especially in Asia. The name of Sir John Lawrence, always powerful in the Punjab, was now more powerful than ever. All doubt of our might disappeared, and recruits to any amount were forthcoming at the slightest hint that men were wanted.

But this supremacy had not been reasserted without measures of extreme severity. No mercy was shown anywhere to mutineers or rebels. All caught in the act 1 were hung or blown from guns. The only justification for this sweeping destruction of life is the old one - necessity. It was their lives or ours. Sometimes, no doubt, men were killed who may have been innocent, but on the whole, considering the peril of the hour, justice was done. The country people were powerful helps, and worked heartily with the Europeans; but the strain on their loyalty was great, and happily it was not protracted too far. To describe what was done in the Punjab during those four months would require a volume; and we are called to other fields. But one fact cannot be passed over. Throughout the period the civil business went on as quietly as if there had been no mutiny. The law and criminal courts were open; the revenue was collected as of old. No European showed any symptom of alarm. But if danger appeared, if the state were threatened, the civilian girded on his arms, and wrought at its suppression with all the ardour of the soldier. Nor must we overlook the other significant fact, that as the mutiny deprived us of one army, so it was the means of furnishing us with another; for, within five months after the outbreak at Meerut, the Punjab Government had raised nearly 30,000 men, upwards of 12,000 of whom were regular soldiers. This fact alone testifies to the energy and wisdom of these men. And they were admirably aided by the civil and military men beyond the Sutlej; for these, with the help of the friendly rajahs, who stood fast to us in our day of trial, battled day and night with turbulent tribes, whose main object was plunder, and who robbed and murdered both sides alike. In these enterprises, so honourable and useful to the common cause, let us remember the names of Ricketts, and Spankie, and Wallace, Dunlop, Barnes, Forsyth, Plowden, as representatives of England, who held up the good old name. Beside theirs, we are in duty bound to place those of the Rajahs of Jheend, Nabha, and Kuppoorthulla, and of the Maharajah of Puttiala, without whom the work done would have been impossible. The characteristic of this terrible period of trial is, the white man, often alone, standing up stout and grim in the midst of thousands of another race, and working his will, and making them work his will, by dint of sheer moral superiority, and nothing more. Humanly speaking, it was the moral ascendancy of the Western over the Eastern which saved us from an ignominious expulsion from India.

Once established in Delhi, it became of the utmost importance to clear the Doab, or country between the Jumna and Ganges, as far as Agra, and reopen communications with Calcutta by way of Cawnpore. Mahometans, and Goojurs, and fugitive Sepoys swarmed in this region. It was reported everywhere that we had been foiled at Delhi, and that the Padshah was still a great king. Ocular and tangible proof of the contrary was required, and on the 22nd a column 2,790 strong, with sixteen guns, traversed Delhi, crossed the Jumna, and emerged into the purer air of the open country. The troops consisted of 930 Europeans, of whom 450 were furnished by the 8th and 75th Foot, and 300 by the 9th Lancers. The remainder were artillerymen. The native force included 400 horsemen. The whole were under Colonel Greathed. Crossing the Hindun by the suspension bridge, the scene of Wilson's first successes, the force swept round to the right, and marched on Bolundshuhur. The rebel chief in these parts was one Walidad Khan, who held his authority from the King of Delhi. He had his head-quarters in the strong fort of Malaghur, about five miles from Bolundshuhur, and he maintained himself by plundering the country side. The appearance of our troops was, therefore, welcomed by the people. The enemy were found in position in front of Bolundshuhur. Here a smart action ensued; but in three hours the enemy was routed, pushed through the town, and his guns were captured. Crossing the Kalee Nuddee, it was found that Walidad Khan had fled from Malaghur across the Ganges. The fort was blown up, but in that operation Lieutenant Home, who had earned the Victoria Cross by his exploits at the Cashmere Gate of Delhi, was accidentally killed. Marching on, the column did justice on the road upon well-known and flagrant offenders, and had passed Allyghur, when expresses came from Agra demanding instant help. Bukht Khan, with the wreck of the Bareilly Brigade and Sepoys of many regiments, was threatening Agra, and the folks in the strong fort of Akbar were in fear. In July the European garrison had sallied out to attack the Neemuch mutineers and the Kotah contingent, which had joined them. The Europeans were only 500 strong, with D'Oyley's battery. The enemy had 2,000 men and eleven guns. The attack does not seem to have been well managed, for the infantry were held back so long that, when they charged, they had to halt and retire, because not only their ammunition but that of the artillery was almost exhausted. The gallant D'Oyley vas mortally wounded. He would not give in, but lying on a gun-carriage, commanded his battery. At length, finding his strength failing, he said, " They have done for me now; put a stone over my grave, and say I died fighting my guns." The troops withdrew to the fort, and the enemy burnt the cantonments and civil lines, and plundered the place, and marched to Delhi. From that time the Europeans, and native Christians, and servants still faithful, lived in the fort. Now they were in great alarm, and hence, as soon as Greathed came within hail, they vehemently demanded his aid, for 10,000 mutineers from Delhi and elsewhere were moving from Dholpore upon Agra, and Colonel Fraser, who had succeeded Mr. Colvin, had got alarmed beyond measure.

Greathed put his troops in motion at once, and on the 10th, after two forced marches, filed over the Jumna, passed through Agra, and pitched his camp on the other side. His wearied soldiers little thought they were on the very threshold of a battle. He had been told that the enemy had retreated. So much for the intelligence of Colonel Fraser. A crowd of sight-seers followed the soldiers to the Native Infantry parade ground, a fine open plain. Many of the troops went to sleep immediately, and officers rode off to see friends in the fort. Few tents were up, the baggage was coming in, when suddenly a round shot crashed through the camp; then another, and finally a salvo from twelve guns. The sight-seers fled at the first gun; but the war-worn and war-trained troops sprang to arms with admirable alacrity, turning out with such clothes as they had oh. The enemy had surprised the camp, but he was surprised in turn, for our artillery soon answered his fire; our infantry and horse were soon in motion - there was no hesitation. The whole force closed with the enemy, and delivered such stunning blows that he fled nine miles, almost without a halt to breathe. On his track, swift and sharp, were the horse batteries and cavalry. " For seven miles," says Colonel Bourchier, " the road was one continued line of carts, guns, ammunition, wagons, camels rushing about without their drivers, and baggage of every description, all of which Ml into our hands. Not a gun or cart recrossed" the Kalee Nuddee, so decisive was the pursuit. Thirteen guns were captured, and the enemy's camp was burnt. "The force returned to camp about seven o'clock, having marched sixty-six miles, and fought a general action, in thirty-nine hours; nine miles of the route had been done by the cavalry and artillery, at a trot through high crops and ploughed fields."

This splendid little action relieved Agra. After resting three days, a rest well deserved, the column, now under Hope Grant, moved out for Cawnpore, which it reached on the 26th of October. The Punjab army had thus sent help towards, instead of receiving aid from Calcutta! Matters had greatly changed in this quarter since we left Havelock a victor at Bithoor in August; and how the change had been brought about we must now narrate.

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Pictures for Chapter XLV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 4

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