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


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The 24th was spent by the generals in devising a plan of attack. First, it was wisely proposed to hold the Alumbagh, which thus served as an intermediate base of operations. It was highly defensible, and plentifully supplied with water. All the baggage was to be deposited here, and a garrison of 250 men, under Colonel M'Intyre, was intrusted with the defence. The next step - the choice of a route into Lucknow - was more difficult. One plan was to force the Charbagh Bridge, and to cut a passage to the Residency along the Cawnpore road. This plan was at once abandoned, because the route which the column would have to take lay through the heart of the city, and because every yard presented an obstacle. Another plan was to move the whole column to the right, seize the Delkoosha Palace and park, and, under cover of its excellent defences, bridge the Goomtee, throw the column over, and sweeping up the left bank of the river, capture the iron bridge, and so release the garrison. The actual plan adopted was a compromise between the two. It was resolved that the Charbagh Bridge should be carried, but that, instead of pushing forward into the city, the column should wheel to the right, and fight its way through the palaces and large houses lying to the east of the Residency. There is reason to believe that the second plan would have been adopted, as the safer, and less costly in life, but it would have taken some days to execute it, and the latest communications from Brigadier Inglis painted the dangers of the garrison from mines, and the possible defection of the native troops, in such colours, that the idea was abandoned, and the deadlier project adopted, Havelock determined to take with him his heavy guns, and well it; vas that he did so. Therefore, leaving in Alumbagh, including the sick and wounded, about 400 men, the force paraded on the 25th to fight its way into Lucknow.

The men were war-worn, out as eager to fight as ever - more eager, as they were so close to their beleaguered countrymen, and those of whom they thought more, their countrywomen. But one spirit animated the whole mass, and their looks filled their leaders with abounding confidence in the issue. The troops moved off between eight and nine. First went a brigade of infantry, followed by the guns, under Sir James Outram; then the remainder of the infantry, under Have- lock himself. As soon as the skirmishers had passed the picket the column came under fire. It was poured in upon them like hail from the road in front, and on both flanks from the enclosures and a large house painted yellow. Three guns raked the column. But, in spite of this fire, on it swept; and, led by Captain Maude, the artillery got through, but with the loss of a third of the men. On the right was a large garden, called the Charbagh; on the left clusters of enclosures; in front the bridge over the canal. The enemy had planted a battery of six guns to defend the bridge, and had filled all the neighbouring houses with infantry. Meeting the storm of shot at a turn in the road, the troops were ordered to lie down until the guns could be got into position. But the narrowness of the road did not enable our artillery captains to place more than two upon it, and with these two Maude contended with six. In order to bring a flank fire to bear on the bridge, Outram led a body of infantry into the Charbagh. The unequal artillery combat continued. Maude's gunners fell rapidly; infantry soldiers replaced them. General Neill, now leading the first brigade, listened anxiously for the sound of Outram's musketry. All was silent in the Charbagh. Feeling that this protracted artillery duel would not help them into Lucknow, Neill resolved to carry the bridge with the bayonet. The word had scarcely been given ere Lieutenant Arnold and a few of the Madras Fusiliers charged on to the bridge. "With them went Colonel Tytler and Lieutenant Henry Have- lock. The first blast of the enemy's grape swept them all down, Havelock excepted. For a moment he was seen standing alone on the bridge, a target for scores of muskets, waving his sword, and calling to the Madras Fusiliers. The next moment they were with him. "With a loud cheer the Fusiliers dashed over the bridge, and bayoneted the gunners at their pieces before they had time to load again. Thus was the bridge of the Charbagh won. Sir James Outram and his men appeared on the bank of the canal just as the guns were captured.

Now the whole column rolled over the bridge. As if they were about to storm along the Cawnpore road, the 78th moved up the street, contending with the enemy in the houses, and occupied its outlet. But this was only a feint. To the surprise of the Sepoys the main column wheeled to the right, and disappeared from view. The baggage followed in a steady stream. Enraged at being thus foiled, the enemy, seeing the Highlanders without support, turned upon them. For three hours the gallant 78th kept the street against all odds. They held the houses at a point where two roads met. When the enemy became too audacious, they sallied out and scared him away. When he brought up two guns, the 78th dashed out of the houses and captured the guns, a feat which won for Captain M'Pherson the Victoria Cross. The surgeon of the regiment, M'Master, was to be seen nobly doing his humane duties under the hottest fire, and a cross was granted to him also. At length, the last wagon crossed the bridge. Young Havelock, who had been charged with the safety of the convoy, was now shot in the arm, just as he had ordered the 78th to withdraw.

Once through that fiery passage of the Charbagh Bridge, the column went on between the canal and the city with comparative ease, for the enemy's defences had been turned. Within the Residency lines there was eager expectation. Distant firing had been heard on the two preceding days; unusual agitation was visible in the city; but no news came in until about ten o'clock, when the faithful Ungud brought a letter from Outram, announcing that he was about to cross the Ganges. The bearer had been nine days on the road. However, he told Brigadier Inglis that Outram was that morning at Alumbagh. Still, the progress of the fight, as indicated by artillery fire, was perplexing, for about eleven, " nearly all sound of firing had ceased," writes an eager listener. We know why. The firing ceased when the 78th, quitting their post near the bridge, followed the main column. An hour later there were sounds and sights which cheered the heart - "the sound of musketry was heard, and the smoke of guns was distinctly perceived within the limits of the city." What a moment for the glorious garrison!

The interval of comparative quiet, when the sounds of combat did not reach the ears of listeners in the Residency lines, was the hour occupied by the march of the main column from the bridge through the tortuous lanes as far as the building known as the Motee Munzil. On approaching this, the column moved to the left, facing westward towards the Residency; and the enemy, massed in the Kaiserbagh, a vast palace of the Kings of Oude, and in the houses, catching sight of our troops, opened a tremendous fire. Eyre brought his heavy guns to bear on the enemy's battery at the gate of the Kaiserbagh, and twice compelled the gunners to flee within the gate; while our troops and trains got under cover in the walled passages and buildings. Halting for a time, to wait for the 78th and the volunteer horse, the force moved once more, and crossing a narrow bridge partially under fire, they plunged into the Chutter Munzil and Furhut Buksh Palaces, out of the storm.

In the meantime the 78th and the horsemen, guided by the sound of the guns, had, on reaching a point where two roads met, quitted the track of the main body, and boldly advanced along a cross lane leading directly to the gate of the Kaiserbagh. Here they came suddenly on the flank of the enemy's battery, which they stormed at once driving the foe into the palace. Spiking the largest gun, they pressed on and came up with the main body in the palaces above-mentioned. Here they found the whole body in great confusion, and here for a moment there was a pause.

For the generals were debating the important question whether they should rest there for the night, or push on. Outram was for halting; Havelock for completing the work that night. The soldiers, at first glad of repose, soon grew weary of it, and loudly expressed their desire to go on. Young Havelock - Charles, the son of William who fell at Ramnuggur, in the Sikh wars - forgetting discipline in the fiery excitement of the moment, suddenly exclaimed, " For God's sake, sir, let us go on! " Little more than a quarter of a mile intervened between the troops and the Bailey Guard. The garrison were eagerly expecting them, for the watchers had seen officers in shooting jackets and men in sola topées, and European soldiers coming towards them, and trembled with the near prospect of deliverance.

The distance, though so short, was every inch under fire. But at length Outram consented. The troops formed up, the generals rode forth at their head, the Highlanders and Sikhs leading the column; and giving a loud cheer, they dashed through an archway into the main street which led to the Bailey Guard Gate. The enemy occupied the windows and roofs of the houses on either side, and poured forth a torrent of fire. The road was cut by deep trenches, so that the artillery had to seek another road, but neither musketry nor trenches could stop that column. It was while seeing that the rear was properly brought up that Neill was shot by a party of the enemy through the ceiling of the archway under which the whole column had passed. No man who fell was more regretted. But the work had been done. Lucknow was relieved.

The garrison had seen the advance of that noble column; seen the Highlanders and Sikhs charge up the main street at a rapid pace, loading, shouting, firing as they stormed along; and almost before a cheer could be raised, Outram rode up, and dismounted at the embrasure of Aitken's Battery, near the Bailey Guard Gate. " Once fairly seen" writes the staff officer, whose diary of the siege is so admirable, "all our doubts and fears regarding them were ended. And then the garrison's long pent-up feelings of anxiety and suspense burst forth in a succession of deafening cheers. From every pit, trench, and battery, from behind the sandbags piled on shattered houses, from every post still held by a few gallant spirits, rose cheer on cheer, even from the hospital! Many of the wounded crawled forth to join in that glad shout of welcome to those who had so bravely come to our assistance. It was a moment never to be forgotten." To make a road into the lines, the gate of the Bailey Guard, long blocked up with earth, was opened, and the soldiers streamed in. "Nothing," writes Mr. Gubbins, " could exceed their enthusiasm. The Highlanders stopped every one they met, and with repeated questions and exclamations of 'Are you one of them?' - 'God bless you!' - 'We thought to have found only your bones,' bore them back towards Dr. Fayrer's house, into which the general had entered. Hero a scene of thrilling interest presented itself. The ladies of that garrison, with their children, had assembled in the most intense anxiety and excitement under the porch outside, when the Highlanders approached. Bushing forward, the rough and bearded warriors shook the ladies by the hand, amidst loud and repeated gratulations. They took the children up in their arms, and fondly caressing them, passed them from one to another to be caressed in turn; and then, when the first burst of enthusiasm and excitement was over, they mournfully turned to speak among themselves of the heavy loss which they had suffered, and to inquire the names of the numerous comrades who had fallen on the way. It is quite impossible to describe the scene within the entrenchment that evening. We had received no post, nor any but the smallest scrap of news, for 113 days since the date of the outbreak at Cawnpore. All had relatives and friends to inquire after, whose fate they were ignorant of, and were eager to learn. Many had brothers, friends, or relatives in the relieving force, whom they were anxiously seeking. Every one wished for news of the outer world, of Delhi, Agra, Calcutta, and of England. Everybody was on foot. All the thoroughfares were thronged; and new faces were every moment appearing of friends which one had least expected to see."

It was the Sikhs and Highlanders who had carved out a road to the Residency by the main street. The remainder of the column, with all the guns except two, were guided by Lieutenant Moorsom - a brave and accomplished young soldier - along streets and lanes which turned some of the Sepoy defences, and brought them to the place with little loss. At the same time, Lieutenant Aitken, with some of the faithful Sepoys of the 13th Native Infantry, sallying forth, materially aided the progress of the guns, and secured a parallel route to the Chutter Munzil.

Unhappily, the wounded, two guns, and the spare ammunition, had been left in the Motee Munzil, under a guard of the 90th, nor could they be rescued during the 26th. Surrounded by the enemy, with one gun exposed in the road and out of reach, they remained all day, assailed and blockaded. Reinforcements were, however, sent to them; and when the sun set, preparations were made for carrying off the convoy. To obtain the gun, private Duffy, a volunteer, crept out, and attached two drag-ropes to the trail of the gun. These were fastened to the limber, the bullocks were yoked, and the gun drawn in. Then, guided by Moorsom, the guns and wagons were put in motion, and actually passed the posts of the enemy unseen. The wounded met with a different fate. Mr. Thornhill, a young civilian, who had married a niece of Havelock's, volunteered to guide the train; but Thornhill lost his way. The wounded and the escort came into the thick of the enemy. Some were carried through, but many were left by the bearers in a square, and these were slain by the foe. Dr. Home, with eight unwounded, and five wounded officers and men, were cut off. They sought shelter in a house, and defended themselves so heroically that to four of them, when rescued - namely, to Dr. Home, and Privates Ryan, M'Manus, and Hollowell - General Outram gave the Victoria Cross. " One of our number," says Dr. Home, who gave Mr. Gubbins an account of this adventure, " Private Ryan (Madras Fusiliers) was in a sad way about the fate of Captain Arnold, of his regiment, who was lying wounded in one of the doolies near. He called for a volunteer to assist him in removing the wounded officer. Private M'Manus (5th Fusiliers) instantly came forward, though wounded in the foot. We removed our barricade, and the two rushed across the gateway, through the terrible musketry fire, and into the square, when they tried to lift the dooly, but found it beyond their strength. They then took Captain Arnold out of the dooly, and carried him through the same heavy fire into the house. The ground was torn by musket balls about them, but they effected their return in safety, though Captain Arnold received a second wound through the thigh while in their arms. A wounded soldier was also brought in in this way, and he also, poor fellow, received two mortal wounds while being carried in, the men who carried him miraculously escaping." Just as they had given up all hope of being rescued, distant firing was heard; it came nearer. " Oh, boys, them's our chaps!" cried the gallant Ryan. He was right. Moorsom soon appeared, and carried them all off.

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Pictures for Chapter XLVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 3

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Brigadier Inglis
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The Duke of Cambridge
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