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Chapter XLIX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 2


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On the night of the 14th the bridge over the river was commenced. A great deal of skirmishing had gone on in front of the Delkoosha palace and park, and the rifles in front were engaged in a constant duel with the enemy, who now and then brought his guns into play. On one of these occasions Colonel Horsford had a duel with a black-skinned fellow dressed in bright yellow, and called by us the Yellow Eunuch. He was using his rifle in the Martinière. Horsford fired with a soldier's Enfield, and drove his rival away. One bridge was finished on the night of the 4th, and a party of infantry was sent over to cover the party building the second. The enemy now scented danger, brought down troopers and guns, and opened on the bridge. But the picket of infantry scared the cavalry by a random volley, and our guns, replying to the enemy, soon made him withdraw. He was now too late. The second bridge was finished, and the column ready to cross.

On the morning of the 6th, Outram's column of all arms marched through the woods to the Goomtee, and began to cross. Sir Colin was there to see, and Outram was smoking and watching the column defile. Then the chief rode to the Delkoosha, and Outram rode after his column. He led it at once up the Goomtee. The enemy, becoming aware of the movement too late, hurried out to oppose him. From the Delkoosha our officers could mark his progress by the clouds of dust above the trees, coming nearer and nearer; then the rush of fugitives in white; then the clearing of the cloud by the Queen's Bays in scarlet uniform, riding with flashing sabres; finally, the Horse Artillery coming out at a bound, and trying in vain to overtake, with shot and shell, the bulk of the enemy. Outram had routed him with ease, and he encamped for the night on what was once the Lucknow race-course.

This being done successfully, Sir Colin threw up batteries in his front to batter the Martinière, to keep down the fire of the enemy's line, and to attract his attention from Outram. Captain William Feel, disdaining the enemy as his wont was, took his naval guns into his battery across the open ground, the sailors conducting their guns with a coolness equal to that of their famous leader. Although a considerable impression was made on the fantastic Martinière, the enemy held on to it, and one gun seemed quite beyond our reach, for none of ours could touch it, or reduce it to silence. But another enemy was coming on them. Outram, who had been attacked on the 8th - an attack which he easily repelled - became the assailant himself on the 9th, and pushing everything before him, closed with the Goomtee, and bringing up a mass of guns, ploughed up the rear of the first line of hostile trenches. At the same time the batteries in front of the Delkoosha, especially Peel's, were rapidly smashing the Martinière; and Sir Colin, seeing how matters were going - how effective the fire was, both from his own and Outram's guns, directed the assault of the Martinière. All this morning the luxurious gentlemen of Oude had been flying kites for their amusement from the top of the Kaiserbagh, while the big guns thundered an accompaniment below! The weather was lovely, the scene magnificent, war in all its pomp and all its horror. The Martinière was very easily taken. The leading regiments were the 42d and 4th Punjabees; the supports were the 38th, 53rd, 90th, and 93rd. The storming party was to use the bayonet only. The guns were to cover the attack. The whole force was under Lugard, who drew them up behind the Delkoosha. Dr. Russell, who witnessed this scene, has left an animated account of it. At two o'clock came the word "Forward!" "As the leading files of the Highlanders appeared on the flank of the Delkoosha, the guns at once ceased. The enemy understood the whole thing in a moment. Ere the smoke had cleared away from the front of our batteries, we could see them 'sloping along' their advanced trenches towards the zig-zags leading to the rear; deserting their rifle-pits, crowding into the main passages, and then flowing in white-crested streams, bobbing up and down in little waves towards the Martinière. But few of them fired as they fled. The moment the leading company of the Highlanders deployed into line, and the Sikhs on their flank began to double, the Sepoys made a rush out of their hiding- places. White figures flew down the steps of the Martinière, passed the open doorway, flitted along the corridors. It was a regular race between Sikhs and Highlanders, to catch the enemy. As they streamed out, the dooly-bearers of the regiments came trudging in close columns after them. Poor fellows! the fire of the enemy's guns, which was opened from the ditch of the canal, as soon as they discovered our attack, was too late to touch our men, who were already screened from it by the Martinière Park; but the round shot plumped: among the doolies, and more than one of the bearers dropped, mutilated and quivering lumps of flesh, in the dust. Just at that moment the 53rd appeared, marching in great order in columns of companies right for the line of the enemy's fire. Sir Colin, who had come up from the court, was very wroth.' See that fellow, Mansfield! Just look how he's taking his regiment into that fire!

Here, sir; go down and tell the commanding officer to deploy them at once, and advance in skirmishing order. How men can be such fools! ' Well, there must be fools in all professions, and accidents in every operation. See there is a prodigious dust in the midst of that troop of artillery, which is galloping in the flank of our; attacking column. A gun has gone over in the uneven ground bodily, horses and all, and there it lies with the carriage and wheels up in the air. This is but of little moment, for our men are already in the enemy's trenches. There they go, leaping into the rifle-pits. Hurrah! they're in the Martinière itself. There they go, up the steps! 'Here, Mr. Russell,' said Sir Colin Campbell, handing me his glass,' I'll make you aide-decamp for the time; your eyes are better than mine. Just look through the trees on the right of the Martinière, and tell me who are the people you see there.' 'They are the Highlanders and Sikhs, sir; I can see them clearly. They are firing through the trees, and advancing very rapidly.' 'Then, we'll go over to the Martinière.' "

Outram had been most successful. He had pushed his conquering column up to and within the walls of the Badshahbagh, and his heavy guns had so raked the enemy's lines in front of Campbell that they appeared to be deserted. An officer volunteered to cross the Goomtee, and see. Plunging in, he swam over. "Suddenly," writes Dr. Russell, who was in the Martinière, "we saw a figure rising out of the waters of the Goomtee, and scrambling up the canal parapet, which just terminates at this place. He gets up, stands upright, and waves his hand. ' What is he? ' ' He must be one of our fellows, sir; he has blue trousers and red stripe.' And so it was - Butler, of the Bengal Fusiliers, " had done this exploit. The Highlanders and Sikhs now dashed at the line, and were soon in possession of the extreme left, and the portion in front of the Martinière. All this time our guns were pounding the city on our left; and such was the effect of Outram's flank movement, that the enemy abandoned Banks's House and the whole line, and our troops took secure possession. On the 10th we were occupied on both sides of the river in battering the place, and preparing for the next move. By the incessant exertions of Lieutenant Patrick Stewart, the telegraphic wire followed the Commander-in-Chief everywhere, so that he was in direct communication with Calcutta every morning, and with Outram also, for Stewart carried a branch line over the Goomtee.

On the 11th both forces made great progress. Jung Bahadoor brought his army into camp, and was sent to hold the left on the canal. Outram made a vast stride forward. Dividing his force into two columns, he sent one to the iron bridge and one to the stone bridge. The troops advanced, literally chasing the enemy before them, and slaying hundreds. Both bridges were taken, but it was not deemed expedient to hold the stone bridge, and the right column returned to a position in a Musjid west of the Badshahbagh. But the iron bridge was held by a strong force. All day Outram's batteries had been firing steadily into the huge buildings on the other bank, especially into the Kaiserbagh, and were enfilading the enemy's second line with effect. Nor were Sir Colin's batteries idle. They were breaching the Begum Kothie. When the breach was practicable, the Highlanders, this time the 93rd, and a Sikh regiment, went at this place, and carried it with a rush. Adrian Hope led the column. Mounting to a window by the aid of his men, he tumbled through among a crowd of Sepoys, who fled at "the apparition of the huge red Celt, sword, and pistol in hand." The men followed, carrying everything before them at the point of the bayonet, until the place was cleared of all except skulkers, who were even found next day, and who from dark holes slew some of our men. On the right the 53rd had carried the Secunderabagh without opposition, and even the Shah Nujeef; Captain Medley, with a handful of native sappers, gallantly holding it all night. This brought the Commander-in-Chief into direct communication with Outram over the river. The mortar batteries were at once turned upon the Kaiserbagh and the Imambara, and up towards the latter Robert Napier, a most accomplished soldier, was pushing a sap by the aid of his engineers. Thus a great day's work had been done. The Kaiserbagh and the Mess House alone remained in the enemy's hands, but the former was strong. While Mansfield was superintending the capture of the Begum Kothie, Sir Colin had to go through the disagreeable duty of receiving Jung Bahadoor. The reputation of the Nepaulese was of ill savour; and it was not pleasant to a frank soldier like Colin Campbell to take the hand of a man who had murdered his kindred.

The work of the 11th was most satisfactory; but in the storming of the Begum's Kothie, as in the assault on Delhi, England suffered a great loss. At the latter fell Nicholson, at the former Hodson was mortally wounded. On his way to select a camping-ground for his horse, he heard firing, and, riding up, found Brigadier Napier directing the attack on the Begum's Kothie. With a cheery smile, he said to the friend he admired so much, "lam come to take care of you; you have no business to go to work without me to look after you." With the assaulting column, beside Robert Napier, he went into the place. It was taken; but Sepoys were still in hiding, and the soldiers were looking for them. Turning to his orderly, he said, "I wonder if any of the rascals are in there." He looked into a dark room - it was full of Sepoys; a shot was fired, and, staggering back, Hodson fell. A bullet had gone clean through him. The Highlanders rushed in, and killed every man in the room; while poor Hodson's orderly, a large, powerful Sikh, carried his master out of danger. He was taken to Banks's House, and there the next day he died, in the presence of Napier and his faithful orderly, who hung over the corpse crying like a child. In his last moments - as Napier records in a letter to Mrs. Hodson - he said - " 'It is hard to leave the world just now, when success is so near; but God's will be done.' 'Bear witness for me that I have tried to do my duty to man. May God forgive my sins for Christ's sake. I go to my Father.' 'My love to my wife. Tell her my last thoughts were of her.' 'Lord receive my soul.' These were his last words; and without a sigh or a struggle, his pure spirit took its flight." He was buried on the 13th, Sir Colin Campbell and a host of officers attending his funeral, to mark his regret and esteem for "the most brilliant soldier" under his command. " When the part of the service came where the body is lowered into the grave, all the old warrior's courage and self-possession could no longer control the tears - undeniable evidence of what he felt. ' I have lost one of the finest officers in the army,' was his remark to General Napier." And it was true. No man in the army was more universally regretted, and no man deserved it more.

The work of sapping up to the Imambara, the next place to be 'taken, now went briskly on. Napier's sappers were engaged in opening wide communications to the rear, and in breaking through the houses in front, so that heavy guns might be brought up to breach the walls. Into the enemy's posts poured an incessant fire of shell from the batteries of Outram, as well as those of Sir Colin; and the rattle of musketry never ceased while there was daylight. The army was now extended from the Badshahbagh, on the right, over the Goomtee to the front of the Imambara; and the moment had now arrived when this building could be breached with effect. They were placed behind a wall thirty yards from the building, and their huge shot were crashing through the massive structure, breaking down several walls at each blow. From the house-tops and the windows and loopholes the enemy fired heavily at random, and did little harm.1 Then came the order to assault; and in went the 10th Foot and Braysher's Sikhs with a rush. The enemy, as usual, fled; and being pursued with great eagerness, our troops emerged through the great gateway into the main road, to find that they had turned the whole of the second line of defence. On went the eager soldiers, down the road, through the houses, the enemy giving ground, and they pursuing, growing mad with the heat, the dust, the uproar, the excitement of the chase. The intention had been only to storm the Imambara itself. Fortune gave them the whole second line; and now, lo! they were in rear of the third. They had pushed up to the Kaiserbagh itself, having broken into the rear of the entrenchments covering the great gate. Seizing the opportunity, heavy supports were brought up from the right, and Franks and Napier determined to take the palace itself. The order was given, and the soldiers dashing in, the whole of the vast buildings fell easily into our hands, so thoroughly broken was the spirit of the enemy.

Sir Colin had expected a fierce resistance - a siege - great loss, perhaps; and here, while he was at breakfast, in came Norman with the news that the Kaiserbagh had fallen. Sir Colin rode up, amid the cheering of the troops, while our soldiers were still routing out the enemy from the recesses of this wonderful palace. Dr. Russell, the most daring of correspondents, went too, and penetrated into the Kaiserbagh before the fray was over. " It was," he writes, " one of the strangest and most distressing sights that could be seen; but it was also most exciting. Discipline may hold soldiers together till the fight, but it assuredly does not exist for a moment after an assault has been delivered, or a storm has taken place. Imagine courts as large as the Temple Gardens, surrounded with ranges of palaces, or, at least, with buildings well stuccoed and gilded, with fresco paintings here and there on the blind-windows, and with green jalousies and Venetian blinds closing the apertures, which pierce the walls in double rows. In the body of the court are statues, lines of lamp-posts, fountains, orange groves, aqueducts, and kiosks with burnished domes of polished metal. Through these, hither and thither, with loud cries, dart European and native soldiery, firing at the windows, from which come now and then dropping shots, or hisses a musket ball. At every door there is an eager crowd smashing the panels with the stocks of their firelocks, or breaking the fastenings by discharges of their weapons. The buildings which surround the courts are irregular in form, for here and there the lines of the quadrangle are broken by columned fronts and lofty porticoes before the mansions of the ministry, or of the great officers of the royal household, which are resplendent with richly-gilt roofs and domes. Here and there the invaders have forced their way into the long corridors, and you hear the musketry rattling inside, the crash of glass, the shouts and yells of the combatants, and little jets of smoke curl out of the closed lattices. Lying amid the orange groves are dead and dying Sepoys; and the white statues are reddened with blood. Leaning against a smiling Yenus is a British soldier, shot through the neck, gasping, and at every gasp bleeding to death Î Here and there officers are running to and fro after their men, persuading or threatening in vain. From the broken portals issue soldiers laden with loot or plunder; shawls, rich tapestry, gold and silver brocade, caskets of jewels, arms, splendid dresses. The men are wild with fury and lust of gold - literally drunk with plunder. Some come out with china vases or mirrors, dash them to pieces on the ground, and return to seek more valuable booty. Others are busy gouging out the precious stones from the stems of pipes, from saddle-cloths, or the hilts of swords, or butts of pistols or fire-arms. Some swathe their bodies in stuffs crusted with precious metals and gems; others carry off useless lumber, brass pots, pictures, or vases of jade and china. Court after court the scene is still the same. These courts open one to the other by lofty gateways, ornamented with the double fish of the royal family of Oude, or by arched passages, in which lie the dead Sepoys, their clothes smouldering on their flesh. The scene of plunder," he continues, " was indescribable. The soldiers had broken up several of the store-rooms, and pitched the contents into the court, which was lumbered with cases, with embroidered clothes, gold and silver brocade, silver vessels, arms, banners, drums, shawls, scarfs, musical instruments, mirrors, pictures, books, accounts, medicine bottles, gorgeous standards, shields, spears, and a heap of things, the enumeration of which would make this sheet of paper like a catalogue of a broker's sale. Through these moved the men, wild with excitement, 'drunk with plunder.' I had often heard the phrase, but never saw the thing itself before. They smashed to pieces the fowling-pieces and pistols to get at the gold mountings and the stones set in the stocks. They burned in a fire, which they made in the centre of the court, brocades and embroidered shawls for the sake of the gold and silver. China, glass, and jade they dashed to pieces in pure wantonness; pictures they ripped up or tossed on the flames; furniture shared the same fate."

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Pictures for Chapter XLIX, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 2

British troops approaching Agra
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