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occasion, and all regretted that the infamous* conduct of one mail had caused such serious loss of officers and men in some of the most distinguished corps+ of the army.
The campaigns of 1803 and 1804 present a series of actions and sieges, in every one of which the Bengal sepoys showed their accustomed valour. At the battles of Delhi and Laswarree they were as eminently distinguished ,as at the sieges of Agra and Deeg; and we may, perhaps, safely assert that in the only two great reverses which occurred during the war, the retreat of Colonel Monson and the siege of Burtpore, the courage, lirmness, and attachment of the native troops were more conspicuous than in its most brilliant periods. We know sufficient of the former operations to regret that no full and faithful account of them has been yet published; nor does the work before us sufficiently supply this blank. We can only express our conviction, founded on a perusal of a private journal kept by an officer of the detachment, that in this disastrous retreat, the native troops (with the exception of a very few, who, after suffering almost unparalleled hardships, were deluded by the offers of the enemy to desert) behaved in the most noble manner. They endured the greatest privations and distresses, during the march from the banks of the Chumbul in Malwali, where the first retrograde movement was made, till their arrival at Agra, a distance of nearly four hundred miles. They had at once to combat the elements (for it rained almost incessantly) and the enemy. Scenes of horrorj occurred which were hardly ever surpassed. Yet, though deprived of regular food and rest, and harassed with continual attacks, their spirit was unbroken.—They maintained throughout the most severe discipline. We are assured that on many occasions, when their European officers, worn down by the climate and fatigue, appeared faint or desponding, the men next
* The name of this officer was Ramsay. He escaped by desertion from the punishment he had so amply merited.
t The corps on the right of the army was the 13th battalion, which had been emiBently distinguished against the French at Cuddalore. It had earned more laureli under its well-known commander, Captain Norman Macleod, in the campaigns of Lord Cornwallis. Captain Ramsay's cavalry rode unexpectedly over this fine battalion, and five thousand Rohillas charged it before it could recover from the confusion into which it was thrown.
X Particularly at the Chumbullee Nullah, a rapid torrent, at which the elephanti were employed to cany the troops over. The animals, becoming wearied or impatient, shook off those on their backs, numbers of whom were drowned. But a still more horrid scene ensued.—The fatigued elephants could not bring over the followers.- The Bheels, a mountain banditti, encouraged by Holkar, came down upon the unprotected females and children, whom they massacred in the most inhuman manner. It was on this extreme trial that some of the gallant fellows, who had before Suffered every bardship with firmness, gave way to despair. Several of them, maddened with the scream* of their wives and children, threw themselves, with their firelocks, into the rapid strewn, and perished in a vain attempt to aid those they loved more than life.
them them exclaimed, ' Keep up your heart, Sir, we will take you in safety to Agra.'* When in square, and sustaining charges from the enemy's horse, it more than once happened, when a musket was fired by a young soldier, that a veteran struck him with the buttend of his firelock, exclaiming,' Are you mad, to destroy our discipline and make us like the rubble that are attacking us?'
The only serious impatience that the sepoys of this detachment shewed, was to be led against.the enemy; and the manner in which they behaved on all occasions given them of signalizing their valour, shewed that this feeling had its rise in no vain confidence. The flank companies, under Captain O'Donnell, were very successful in beating up the quarters of a considerable corps of the enemy on the 21st July. On- the 24th of August, when all the detachment, which consisted of five battalions and six companies of sepoys, had been sent across the Bannas river, except the 2d battalion of the 2d regiment and some piquets, Holkar brought up his infantry and guns to attack this corps, which not only defended its position, but advanced with the utmost gallantry, and obtained possession of several pieces of the enemy's artillery. It could not, however, be supported by the other parts of the force, who were divided from it by the river, and it was almost annihilated. Those who witnessed the attack which it made upon Holkar's line from the opposite bank of the Bannas, speak with admiration of the heroism of the European officers, and of the gallant men whom they led to a momentary but fatal victory. At the close of this affair they saw a jemadar (native lieutenant) retiring towards the river, pursued by five or six men. He held the standard of his battalion in one hand, and a sword, with which he defended himself, in the other. When arrived at the river he seemed to have attained his object of saving the colours of his corps, and, springing with them into the current, sunk to rise no more.
There have been few officers who better understood the character of soldiers than the late Lord Lake. He had early discovered ^hat of the Bengal Sepoys. He attended to their prejudices, -flattered their pride, and praised their valour. They repaid his consideration of them with gratitude and affection, and during the whole of the late Mahratta war, their zeal and devotion to the public service was increased by the regard and attachment which they entertained for the commander in chief. Sufficient instances of this occur in the work now before us. There is none, however, more remarkable than the conduct he pursued towards the shattered corps of Colonel Monson's detachment. He formed them into a reserve, and promised them every opportunity of signalizing themselves. No con
. * We have been informed of this fact by officer» to whom these expressions were ised.
fidence fidence was ever better repaid, and throughout the service that ensued these corps were uniformly distinguished.
The conduct of the 2d battalion of the 12th regiment may be taken as an example of the spirit that animated the whole. This corps, which has been before noticed under its first name of' Gilliez,' or the Lai Pultan, had behaved with uncommon valour at the buttle of Laswarree, where it had one hundred men and three officers killed and wounded. It was associated on that occasion with his Majesty's 76th regiment, and shared in the praise which Lord Lake bestowed on 'the handful of heroes,' as he emphatically termed those whose great exertions decided that battle. It was with Colonel Monson's detachment, and maintained its high character in the disastrous retreat we have alluded to. But all its former deeds were outdone at the siege of Burtpore. It appears by a printed memorial which we have before us of its European commanding officer, that on the first storm of that fortress this corps lost one hundred and fifty officers and men killed and wounded, and did not retire till the last. On the third attack, when joined with the J st battalion of the same regiment, (amounting together to eight hundred men,) it became the admiration of the whole army. The 2d battalion of the 12th regiment on this occasion not only drove back the enemy who had made a sally to attack the trenches, but effected a lodgment, and planted its colours on one of the bastions of the fort. Unfortunately this work was cut off by a deep ditch from the body of the place; and after the attack had failed, the 1 2th regiment was ordered to retire, which they did reluctantly, with the loss of seven officers and three hundred and fifty men killed and wounded, being nearly half the number they had carried into action.
Examples of equal valour might be given from many other corpt during the war, and instances of individual valour might be noticed in any number, but more is not necessary to satisfy the reader of the just title of the Bengal Sepoys to the high name which they have acquired; and from late accounts* we perceive that their conduct
* We know few instances where more has been required from the zeal and valour of the native troops, than in the late campaign against the Goorkhas. The great successes of Major-General Sir D. Ochterlony could only have been gained by the patience and courage of the troops being equal to the skill and decision of their commander, and in the spirited and able operations of Colonel Nicolls, quarter-master-general of his Majesty's troops in India, against Almorah, where eight hundred sepoys, aided by a few irregulars, were led against three thousand gallant mountaineers, who occupied that mountain fortress and the heights by which it was surrounded. Victory could only have been obtained by every Sepoy partaking of the ardour and resolution of bis gallant leader. Of their conduct on this occasion we may, indeed, judge by the admiration with which it inspired Colonel Nicolls, who gave vent to his feelings in an order that does honour to his character. Speaking of an attack made by a party of Sepoy grenadiers, he observes, ' This was an exploit of which the best troops of any age might justly have been proud.'
throughout the arduous service in Nepaul, where they had at once 'to contend with the natural obstacles of an almost impracticable country, and the desperate valour of a race of hardy mountaineers, has been worthy of their former fame: since the conclusion of this war a small body of these troops has had an opportunity of exhibiting, in a most distinguished manner, that firmness, courage, and attachment to their officers and the service, which have always characterized this army.—We allude to a recent occurrence of a most serious sedition at Bareilly, the capital of Rohilcund. The introduction of a police tax, intended to provide means for the security of life and property, had spread alarm and discontent among an iguorant population, whose prejudices in favour of their ancient usages are so strong as to lead them to regard any innovation (whatever be its character) with jealousy and indignation. Acting under these feelings, the Rohillas of Bareilly, who are alike remarkable for their strength of body and individual courage, rose in a body to oppose the orders of the civil magistrate. They were led by a priest upwards of ninety years of age, who dug his grave to indicate his resolution to conquer or die, and at whose orders the green flag, or standard of Mahomet, was hoisted, that religious feelings might be excited to aid the efforts which they now proclaimed themselves determined to make to effect the downfall of their European tyrants. What rendered this revolt more alarming was the knowledge that the cause of the insurgents was popular over the whole country, and a belief that their success would be the signal for a general rise in the neighbouring provinces. All the force that could be collected to suppress this revolt was a detachment of between three and four hundred sepoys of the 27th regiment of native infantry, and part of a provincial battalion under Captain Boscawen, with two guns and a party of about four hundred Rohilla horse belonging to a corps lately embodied under Captain Cunningham. The former. received, with undismayed courage, the charge of an undisciplined, but furious and desperate rabble, who encouraged by their numbers, which exceeded twelve thousand armed men, persevered in the attack till more than two thousand of them were slain; and the latter, though of the same class and religion as the insurgents, and probably related to many of them by the ties of kindred, proved equally firm as the sepoys to their duty. When their priest advanced and invoked them to join their natural friends, and to range themselves under the standard of their faith, only one man was found wanting in fidelity; he deserted and was soon afterwards slain by his former comrades, who continued throughout to display prompt obedience, exemplary courage, and unshaken attachment to the officer by whom they were led.
However slight this affair may seem, we do not recollect any ocVol. xvm, No. xxxvi. • Dd currence currence in the history of British India more calculated to shew the dependence of our power on the fidelity of our native troops, and the absolute necessity of adopting every measure by which their attachment can be confirmed and approved. We are as jealous as Englishmen ought to be, of the encroachment of military power, whenever we meet the pretensions or privileges of soldiers marshalled in opposition to the rights of the civil part of the community. The whole bias of our minds is to support the latter; but it is not the part of wisdom to transplant the feelings, the principles, and the maxims, that are essential to the maintenance of the constitution of our native country to India. The soil is not yet prepared for their reception, and it probably never will be. It is, no doubt, our duty to make our government as mild, as just, and as equal in its benefits to every class of our subjects, as it is possible, consistent with attention to the general security; but we must not make ourselves the slaves of our own rules. If we are told, which it is not improbable w e may be, that this doctrine has a tendency to infringe some of the most essential of our civil regulations, we must answer that we know of no principle or institution in a government which ought not to yield to another that can be proved necessary for the preservation of the state; and that we must have stronger instances than the history of India yet affords, of the power of our civil regulations and establishments to save us from danger, before we can be convinced that they should not be altered and remodelled, in any points, when alteration would decidedly furnish us with additional means of permanently rewarding and preserving the courage and attachment of that class of the natives of India, to whom we are, by our condition, compelled to confide the sword for the defence and protection of our empire in that quarter of the globe.
We have in the work before us several accounts of mutinies among the Bengal sepoys, but these appear, in almost all cases, to have proceeded from one of two causes: the nefarious or unjustifiable conduct of the commander of the corps, or an attempt to make them proceed by sea on foreign service. The former cause of discontent is not so likely to occur under the present regulation as it was at a period when the command of a battalion could be converted into a source of indirect emolument; and the latter will be avoided as long as the present system continues of forming volunteer* battalions for expeditions that require embarkation.
* It has been found by experience, that though, from causes before mentioned, corps, collectively, are usually unwilling to embark, volunteers for this species of service cai be obtained to any amount. The young men who enter these temporary corps with the hopes of distinction and promotion are perhaps the best suited to the service. The number and quality of the native troops who volunteered from Bengal for the wars of 1791-2 and 1799, m Mysore; hi 1801, for Egypt; and in 1810 and 1811, for the Isles