OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

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

Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5>

Help from England now began to arrive; nor a moment before it was needed. As the battalions landed they were sent up to Cawnpore, and thrown forward on the road to Lucknow. Sir Colin went himself to take command. At this time the main object was to rescue the heroic garrison once for all, and, having left no European post without succour, to devise in comparative leisure those plans required for the complete re-conquest of the country. So Sir Colin went forward, and did his work so effectually that all men gave him cheerfully the admiration he had deserved. But he had been obliged to leave at Cawnpore a weak force under a commander whose talents as a soldier never under a commander whose talents as a soldier never went beyond the narrow limits of mediocrity; and who was a Windham, a Guardsman, and for a moment the be puffed favourite of a few. This officer had to deal with the powerful Gwalior Contingent, and he so dealt with them that they took his camp, and drove him to his entrenchments. Here, then, was the whole of the Doab, and, what was more, the bridge over the Ganges, in danger. Had the Gwalior Contingent been well led it might have won. As it was, it was worse led than the "British; and Sir Colin, by a forced march, drawn along by the sound of the cannon, came up in the nick of time, preserved the bridge, saved Windham, provided for the safety of his own convoy, and then utterly routed the enemy. At no period had greater danger been warded off. From that time we were masters of the situation. The corner had been completely turned. In seven months we had passed triumphantly through the terrible ordeal. In seven months we had beaten every body of mutineers that dared to show themselves either in the field or in their strong places. For, like Sir Colin, Brigadier Stuart had by this time fought his way through Malwa, and rescued the garrison of Neemuch. Into seven months had been crowded a hundred victories over innumerable foes, and at the end of 1857 there was no longer any question of the maintenance of British rule in India: it was secured.

The business of our troops was now the re-conquest of Oude, Rohilcund, and Central India; but this was not a struggle for existence, like the conflict of the past seven months; it was a mere matter of ordinary warfare. England, rising to the level of the occasion, sent 50,000 British soldiers to India, and raised 70,000 more to show Europe how imprudent it would be of any power to dream of meddling with her even in her hour of misfortune. The re-conquest of territory we have described. It was preceded by the proclamation of the Queen's authority, and the end of 1857 saw alike the destruction of the Bengal Native Army and of the East India Company. How Sir Hugh Rose rescued the garrison of Saugor, and swept through Central India; how his men marched and fought, and suffered cheerfully and undauntedly; how they captured Jhansi, triumphed at Koonch and Gowlowlee, and with what vigour they sprang upon the astute leader who, dethroning Scindia, had set up his standard at Gwalior; and how Sir Colin Campbell captured Lucknow and cleared out Rohilcund, who can forget? It is a story of heroism, and endurance, and perseverance only equalled by the earlier conflicts, when, with slight means but much skill, the soldiers and statesmen of India stood up so bravely against raging thousands, and overcame. Finally, we have seen how Lord Clyde and his able lieutenants drove the wreck of the Oude rebels into the jungles of the Himalaya; and with what indefatigable energy the keen soldiers in Central India hunted Tantia Topee to his last refuge.

It would be unjust to overlook the conduct of the natives. Had they been wholly against us, had they been universally dissatisfied with our rule, we could not have held India an hour when the army proved untrue. But India is not a nation; it is only a geographical expression. The people do not love us, but they recognise the fact that our Government, with all its defects, is the justest Government that ever existed in India. Our very faults sprung from good intentions. So, when the soldiery were guilty of the high crime of mutiny, they were supported only by that fraction of the people which followed ambitious chiefs into the field to strike for their assumed "rights." The bulk of the natives were not hostile: they furnished servants, they furnished soldiers, they supplied provisions and carriage. In one field there might be seen fierce battle; in the next the peasant tilling his land. The native soldiers of Bombay and Madras fought as well as our own. Sir John Lawrence raised 50,000 men from a race which a few years before were our enemies. Police could be got anywhere for money. Though many fugitives from Sepoy foes were maltreated or slain, many also were saved by the chiefs and peasantry. Looking back on the events of the period we have traversed, we are struck with the immense aid given, often cheerfully, by the natives of India. How much we owed to Salar Jung, the minister of the Nizam, and to Dinkur Rao, the minister of Scindia, only those deep in state secrets Could adequately tell. Lord Canning was not the man to forget those who had befriended us, and the fruits of native help in the crisis of the strife were seen in the radical changes effected in Indian policy, in the resolve to preserve native states instead of absorbing them, and in the recognition of the highly-prized right of adoption as a means of preserving a dynasty and a state.

Such is the story of the abortive attempt of the Praetorians of Bengal to give rulers to India, and of ambitious native princes to obtain or recover possession of principalities for themselves. They were frustrated, but at great cost. The grave of John Nicholson, under the walls of Delhi, is the monument of a national loss; for when he fell mortally wounded, England lost the man who of all others had given evidence of the highest military genius. And there are four graves at Lucknow, each of which holds the remains of men far above the rank and file even of able men. Henry Lawrence - gentle, wise, resolute, far-seeing - lies in the old Residency lines. Neill found a bed of honour in the streets of the polluted city. Under a tree in the Alumbagh they laid Henry Havelock's corpse, and a nation's tears watered his grave. Not far off, in the Delkoosha Park, Hodson - brave, accomplished, gifted, who in so short a time had done so much - sleeps the sleep of the just. William Peel, who might have been the Nelson of our day, was cut off in his prime at Cawnpore. And though they were less gifted than these, yet, as they did their duty with matchless resolution, and died in the work, we must not forget the hundreds of gallant officers and men who perished, some by treachery, most in fair fight, who were struck down by the fierce sun, or who sank under excessive exertion.

Lord Canning and Lord Elphinstone, worn out by the labours, and anxieties, and excitements of these dreadful years, came home exhausted to die. But the work was done, and done well. When five years had passed, the symbol of the great change effected by this memorable mutiny was, that Sir John Lawrence, the saviour of the Punjab, was the Viceroy and Governor-General of India.

<<< Previous page <<<
Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5>

Pictures for Chapter LII, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 5

Brithsi Columbia
Brithsi Columbia >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About