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The History of the Indian Revolt and of the Expeditions to Persia, China and Japan 1856-7-8
George Dodd


The most serious event in the districts around Calcutta, perhaps, was one that occurred in the Sonthal Pergunnahs; in which the 5th irregular cavalry displayed a tendency, fatal on a small scale, and likely to have become much more disastrous if not speedily checked. Lieutenant Sir N. R. Leslie was adjutant of that regiment at Rohnee. On the 12th of June, this officer, Major Macdonald, and Assistant-surgeon Grant, while sitting in Sir Norman Leslie’s compound, in the dusk of the evening, were suddenly attacked by three men armed with swords. Major Macdonald received a blow which laid his head open, and rendered him insensible for many hours; Mr Grant received sword-wounds on the arm and the leg; while Sir Norman was so severely wounded that he expired within half an hour. The miscreants escaped after this ferocious attack, without immediate detection.[18 - The following is an extract of a letter written by Major Macdonald, after the attack upon him and his brother-officers: ‘Two days after, my native officer said he had found out the murderers, and that they were three men of my own regiment. I had them in irons in a crack, held a drumhead court-martial, convicted, and sentenced them to be hanged the next morning. I took on my own shoulders the responsibility of hanging them first, and asking leave to do so afterwards. That day was an awful one of suspense and anxiety. One of the prisoners was of very high caste and influence, and this man I determined to treat with the greatest ignominy, by getting the lowest caste man to hang him. To tell you the truth, I never for a moment expected to leave the hanging scene alive; but I was determined to do my duty, and well knew the effect that pluck and decision had on the natives. The regiment was drawn out; wounded cruelly as I was, I had to see everything done myself, even to the adjusting of the ropes, and saw them looped to run easy. Two of the culprits were paralysed with fear and astonishment, never dreaming that I should dare to hang them without an order from government. The third said he would not be hanged, and called on the Prophet and on his comrades to rescue him. This was an awful moment; an instant’s hesitation on my part, and probably I should have had a dozen of balls through me; so I seized a pistol, clapped it to the man’s ear, and said, with a look there was no mistake about: “Another word out of your mouth, and your brains shall be scattered on the ground.” He trembled, and held his tongue. The elephant came up, he was put on his back, the rope adjusted, the elephant moved, and he was left dangling. I then had the others up, and off in the same way. And after some time, when I had dismissed the men of the regiment to their lines, and still found my head on my shoulders, I really could scarcely believe it.’] At first it was hoped and believed that the regiment had not been dishonoured by the presence of these murderers on the muster-roll; Mr Grant was of this opinion; but Major Macdonald, commandant of the regiment, took a less favourable view. The offenders, it soon appeared, belonged to the regiment; a chase was ordered; two of the men were found after a time, with their clothes smeared with blood; while the third, when taken, candidly owned that it was his sword that had given the death-stroke to Leslie. The murderers were speedily executed, but without giving any information touching the motives that led to their crime. Three sowars of the regiment, Ennus Khan, Kurreem Shere Khan, and Gamda Khan, received encomiums and rewards for the alacrity with which they had pursued the reckless men who had thus brought discredit on their corps. The official dispatches relating to this affair comprised two letters written by Major Macdonald to Captain Watson, an officer commanding a squadron of the same regiment at Bhagulpore; they afford curious illustration of the cheerful, daring, care-for-naught spirit in which the British officers were often accustomed to meet their difficulties during those exciting scenes: ‘I am as fairly cut and neatly scalped as any Red Indian could do it. I got three cracks in succession on the head before I knew I was attacked. I then seized my chair by the arms, and defended myself successfully from two of them on me at once; I guarded and struck the best way I could; and at last Grant and self drove the cowards off the field. This is against my poor head, writing; but you will be anxious to know how matters really were; I expect to be in high fever to-morrow, as I have got a bad gash into the skull besides being scalped.’ This was written on the day after the murderous attack; and three days later the major wrote: ‘My dear fellow, I have had a sad time of it, and am but little able to go through such scenes, for I am very badly wounded; but, thank God, my spirits and pluck never left me for a moment. When you see my poor old head, you will wonder I could hold it up at all. I have preserved my scalp in spirits of wine – such a jolly specimen!’

In Cuttack, bounding the northwest corner of the Bay of Bengal, many Mohammedans were detected in the attempt to sap the loyalty of the Shekhawuttie battalion. Lieutenant-colonel Forster, with the head-quarters of that corps at Midnapore, succeeded by his personal influence in keeping the men from anything beyond slight acts of insubordination; but he had many proofs, in that town and in the Cuttack district, that the Company’s ‘raj’ or rule was being preached against by many emissaries of rebellion.

This rapid sketch will have shewn that the eastern divisions of Bengal were not disturbed by any very serious tumults during the month of June. Incipient proofs of disaffection were, it is true, manifested in many places; but they were either unimportant in extent, or were checked before they could rise to perilous magnitude. In the western divisions, however, the troubles were more serious; the towns were further from Calcutta, nearer to the turbulent region of Oude; and these conditions of locality greatly affected the steadiness and honesty of the native troops.

During the earlier days of the month, considerable excitement prevailed in the districts of which Patna and Dinapoor are the chief towns; in consequence of the general spread of a belief, inculcated by the deserters from Barrackpore, that the government contemplated an active interference with the religion of the people. A similar delusion, it was speedily remembered, had existed in the same parts about two years earlier; the government had adopted such measures as, it was hoped, would remove the prejudice; but the events of 1857 shewed that the healing policy of 1855 had not been effective for the purpose in view. Until the 13th of June, the disaffection was manifested only by sullen complainings and indistinct threats; but on that day matters presented a more serious aspect. The various magistrates throughout the Patna division reported to the lieutenant-governor of Bengal, that although no acts of violence had been committed, the continuance of tranquillity would mainly depend on the fidelity of the native troops at Dinapoor, the most important military station in that part of India. Dinapoor may, in fact, be regarded as the military post belonging to the great city of Patna, which is about ten miles distant.[19 - Dinapoor is remarkable for the fine barracks built by the Company for the accommodation of troops – for the officers, the European troops, and the native troops; most of the officers have commodious bungalows in the vicinity; and the markets or bazaars, for the supply of Europeans as well as natives, are unusually large and well supplied.] The magistrates also reported, as one result of their inquiries, that the Mohammedans in that division were thoroughly disaffected; and that if any disturbance occurred at head-quarters (Dinapoor), a rapid extension of the revolt would be almost inevitable. When these facts and feelings became known, such precautionary measures were adopted as seemed best calculated to avert the impending evils. An increase was made in the police force at Behar; the ghats or landing-places were carefully watched and regulated; the frontiers of the neighbouring disaffected districts were watched; a portion of the Company’s treasure at Arrah and Chupra was sent off to Calcutta, and the rest removed to Patna for safe custody under a guard of Sikhs; a volunteer guard was formed in that city; measures were taken to defend the collectorate and the opium factories; six companies of the Sikh police battalion were marched from Soorie to Patna; and places of rendezvous for European residents were appointed at many of the stations, to facilitate a combined plan of action in the event of mutinous symptoms appearing among the native troops. The Rajahs of Bettiah and Hutwah addressed letters expressive of loyalty and affection towards the government, and placed men and elephants at the disposal of the local authorities, to assist in the maintenance of tranquillity.

Towards the middle of the month, an alarm prevailed at Chupra and Arrah, consequent on the mutinous proceedings in certain towns further to the west, presently to be noticed. Large works were under construction near those places in connection with the East India Railway; and the Europeans engaged in those operations, as well as others resident in the two towns, made a hasty retreat, and sought for refuge at Dinapoor. The magistrates and most of the civil officers remained at their posts, and by their firmness prevented the alarm from degenerating into a panic. At Gayah or Gya, a town between Patna and the great trunk-road – celebrated for its Bhuddist and Hindoo temples, and the great resort of pilgrims of both religions – considerable apprehension prevailed, on account of the unprotected state of a large amount of Company’s treasure in the collectorate; an apprehension increased by the presence of many desperate characters at that time in the jail, and by the guard of the jail being wholly composed of natives who would remain steady only so long as those at Dinapoor were ‘faithful to their salt.’ Fortunately, the authorities were enabled to obtain a guard of European soldiers, chiefly from her majesty’s 64th regiment; and thus the ruffians, more to be dreaded than even the rebellious sepoys, were overawed.

It is impossible to avoid seeing, in the course of events throughout India, how much importance ought to be attached to the matter just adverted to – the instrumentality of robbers and released prisoners in producing the dreadful scenes presented. India swarms with depredators who war on the peaceful and industrious inhabitants – not merely individual thieves, but robber-tribes who infest certain provinces, directing their movements by the chances of war or of plunder. Instead of extirpating these ill-doers, as Asiatic sovereigns have sometimes attempted to do, the East India Company has been accustomed to capture and imprison them. Hence the jails are always full. At every important station we have several hundred, sometimes two or three thousand, such prisoners. The mutiny set loose these mischievous elements. The release of crowds of murderers and robbers from prison, the flocking of others from the villages, and the stimulus given to latent rogues by the prospect of plunder, would account for a large amount of the outrage committed in India – outrage which popular speech in England attaches to the sepoys alone.

On the 13th of June, the first indications of a conspiracy at Patna were detected. A nujeeb of the Behar station guards was discovered in an attempt to tamper with the Sikhs of the police corps, and to excite them to mutiny: he was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged; while three Sikhs, who had been instrumental in his apprehension, were publicly rewarded with fifty rupees each. In singular contrast to this, three other nujeebs of the same force, on the same day, placed in the commissioner’s hands a letter received from sepoys at Dinapoor, urging the Behar guards to mutiny, and to seize the treasure at Patna before the Sikhs could arrive to the rescue: this, as a valuable service rendered at a critical period, was rewarded by donations of two hundred rupees to each of the three men. The next symptoms were exhibited by certain members of the Wahabee sect of Mohammedans at Patna. The fanatical devotion of these Mussulmans to their spiritual leaders, their abnegation of self, and their mode of confidential communication with each other without written documents, render it at all times difficult to produce legal proof of any machinations among them; while their mutual fidelity enables them to resist all temptation to betrayal. The commissioner of Patna, having suspicions of the proceedings of the Wahabees in that city, deemed it politic to detain four of their number as hostages for the sect generally – a sect formidable for its organisation, and peculiarly hostile to Christians. They were placed in a sort of honourable confinement, while a general disarming of the inhabitants took place. On another occasion a police jemadar, Waris Ali, was ascertained to be in possession of a large amount of treasonable correspondence; he was known to be in some way related to the royal family of Delhi; and the letters found in his house threw suspicion on more than one native official in the service of the Company.

The most serious affair at Patna, however, occurred about the close of the period to which this chapter more particularly relates. At about eight o’clock in the evening of the 3d of July, a body of Mohammedans, variously estimated from eighty to two hundred, assembled at the house of one of their number, one Peer Ali Khan, a bookseller, and proceeded thence to the Roman Catholic church and mission-house in Patna, with two large green flags, a drum beating, and cries of ‘Ali! Ali!’ The priest, whom they probably intended to murder, fortunately escaped. They emerged into the street, reiterated their cries, and called on the populace to join them. Dr Lyell, principal assistant to the opium agent, immediately went to the spot, accompanied by nine Sikhs. He rode ahead of his support, was shot down by the rioters, and his body mangled and mutilated before the Sikhs could come up. A force of Sikhs and nujeebs speedily recovered the unfortunate gentleman’s body, killed some of the insurgents, and put the rest to flight. This appeared at first to be a religious demonstration: a Mohammedan fanatic war-cry was shouted, and the property of the Catholic mission was destroyed, but without any plunder or removal. Thirty-six of the insurgents were afterwards captured and tried; sixteen of the number, including Peer Ali Khan, who was believed to be the murderer of Dr Lyell, were condemned to death; eighteen, including a jemadar, were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment; and two were acquitted. All the facts of this temporary outbreak were full of significance; for it soon became evident that something more than mere religious hostility had been intended. Peer Ali Khan was offered a reprieve if he would divulge the nature of the conspiracy; but, like a bold, consistent fanatic, he remained defiant to the last, and nothing could be got out of him. It was afterwards ascertained that he had been in secret communication with an influential native at Cawnpore ever since the annexation of Oude, and that the details of some widely-spread plot had been concerted between them. The capture of the thirty-six rioters had been effected by the disclosures of one of the band, who was wounded in the struggle; he declared that a plot had been in existence for many months, and that men were regularly paid to excite the people to fight for the Padishah of Delhi. Letters found in Peer Ali’s house disclosed an organised Mussulman conspiracy to re-establish Mohammedan supremacy on the ruins of British power; and besides the correspondence with Cawnpore and Delhi, a clue was obtained to the complicity of an influential Mohammedan at Lucknow.

Patna was sufficiently well watched and guarded to prevent the occurrence of anything of more serious import. Nevertheless, the European inhabitants were kept in great anxiety, knowing how much their safety depended on the conduct of the sepoys at Dinapoor. The commissioner at the one place, and the military commandant at the other, were naturally rejoiced to receive any demonstrations of fidelity on the part of the native troops, even if the sincerity of those demonstrations were not quite free from doubt. On the 3d of June, Colonel Templer assembled the 7th regiment B. N. I. on the military parade at Dinapoor, to read to them the flattering address which Viscount Canning had made to the 70th regiment at Barrackpore, on the manifestation of loyalty by that corps. On the conclusion of this ceremony, the native commissioned officers came up to the colonel, and presented to him a petition, signed by two subadars and five jemadars on the part of the whole regiment. The petition is worth transcribing,[20 - ‘At present the men of bad character in some regiments, and other people in the direction of Meerut and Delhi, have turned from their allegiance to the bountiful government, and created a seditious disturbance, and have made choice of the ways of ingratitude, and thrown away the character of sepoys true to their salt.‘At present it is well known that some European regiments have started to punish and coerce these rebels; we trust that by the favour of the bountiful government, we also may be sent to punish the enemies of government, wherever they are; for if we cannot be of use to government at this time, how will it be manifest and known to the state that we are true to our salt? Have we not been entertained in the army for days like the present? In addition to this, government shall see what their faithful sepoys are like, and we will work with heart and soul to do our duty to the state that gives us our salt.‘Let the enemies of government be who they may, we are ready to fight them, and to sacrifice our lives in the cause.‘We have said as much as is proper; may the sun of your wealth and prosperity ever shine.‘The petition of your servants:Heera Sing, Subadar,Ellahee Khan, Subadar,Bhowany Sing, Jemadar,Munroop Sing, Jemadar,Heera Sing, Jemadar,Isseree Pandy, Jemadar,Murdan Sing, Jemadar,of the Burra Crawford’s, or 7th regiment, native infantry, and of every non-commissioned officer and sepoy in the lines. Presented on the 3d June 1857.’] to shew in what glowing language the native troops could express their grateful allegiance – but whether sincere or insincere, no European could at that time truly tell. Colonel Templer desired that all the men who acknowledged the petition to contain an expression of their real sentiments and wishes, would shoulder their arms in token thereof; on which every one present shouldered arms. The native officers afterwards assured the colonel, with apparent earnestness, that it was the eager wish of the whole regiment to be afforded an opportunity of removing even a suspicion of their disaffection. When Colonel Templer repeated this to Major-general Lloyd, the military commander of the Dinapoor division, and when Lloyd forwarded the communication to Calcutta, the regiment of course received thanks for the demonstration, and were assured that ‘their good conduct will be kept in remembrance by the governor-general in council.’ It was not until a later month that the small value of these protestations was clearly shewn; nevertheless the Europeans at Dinapoor continued throughout June to be very uneasy. Almost every one lived in the square; the guns were kept ready loaded with grape; the few European troops were on the alert; and pickets were posted all round the station. A motley assemblage – planters, soldiers, civilians, railway men, and others – was added to the ordinary residents, driven in from the surrounding districts for protection. The officers gave up their mess-house to the ladies, who completely filled it.

In Tirhoot, a district north of Patna, on the other side of the Ganges, the planters and others were thrown into great excitement during the month of June, by the events occurring around them. About the middle of the month, planters left their estates and civilians their homes, to go for refuge to the Company’s station at Mozufferpoor. Eighty gentlemen, thirty ladies, and forty children, were all crowded into two houses; the ladies and children shut up at night, while the men slept in verandahs, or in tents, or took turns in patrolling. The nujeebs, stationed at that place, were suspected of being in sympathy with the mutineers; one of the Company’s servants, disguised as a native, went to their quarters one night, and overheard them conversing about murdering the Europeans, looting the treasury (which contained seven lacs of rupees), and liberating the prisoners. This was the alarm that led to the assembling of the Europeans at the station for mutual protection; and there can be little doubt that the protection would have been needed had Dinapoor fallen. One of the Mohammedan inhabitants was seized at Mozufferpoor, with a quantity of treasonable correspondence in his possession; and the commandant at Segowlie condemned to the gallows with very little scruple several suspicious characters in various parts of the district.

Advancing up the Ganges, we come to Ghazeepore, on its northern or left bank. This town, containing forty thousand inhabitants, is rendered somewhat famous by a palace once belonging to the Nawab of Oude, but now in a very ruinous state; also by the beautiful Grecian tomb erected to the Marquis of Cornwallis; and by the rose-gardens in its vicinity, where rose-leaves are gathered for making the celebrated otto or attar. The bungalows of the Company’s civil servants are situated west of the town; and beyond them is the military cantonment. During the early part of the month of June, the 65th native infantry, stationed at Ghazeepore, was sorely tempted by the mutinying of so many other regiments at stations within forty or fifty miles; but they remained stanch for some time longer.

Not so the sepoys at Azimghur, a town northwest of Ghazeepore, containing twelve or fourteen thousand inhabitants, and a military station. At this place the 17th regiment Bengal native infantry was posted at the beginning of June. On the 3d of the month an escort of thirty troopers of the 13th irregular cavalry brought in seven lacs of rupees from Goruckpore, en route to Benares. At six o’clock in the evening the treasure was started again on its journey; and in three hours afterwards the 17th mutinied, influenced apparently rather by the hope of loot than by any political or religious motives. During several days previously the authorities had been employed in throwing up a breastwork around the cutchery or government offices; but this was not finished. The sepoys killed their quartermaster, and wounded the quartermaster-sergeant and two or three others. The officer on guard at the fort of the cutchery sent out a picket to the lines, and ordered the native artillerymen to load their guns: this they refused to do; and hence the infantry were left to follow out their plan of spoliation. The officers were at mess when the mutiny began; seeing the danger, they placed the ladies on the roof of the cutchery. When the sepoys came up, they formed a square round the officers, and swore to protect them; but stated that, as some men of the regiment were very hostile, it would be better for all the officers to depart. The men brought carriages for them, and escorted them ten miles on the road to Ghazeepore. Many of the civilians hurried away to the same town, reaching that place in terrible plight. The marauders from the neighbouring villages did not fail in their usual course; they plundered the bungalows of the Europeans at Azimghur, or such of them as were left unprotected.

Far more serious were the events at Benares, than at any city or station eastward of it, during the month of June. It would in all probability have been still more deplorable, had not European troops arrived just at that time. Lieutenant-colonel Neill reached Benares on the 3d of June, with sixty men and three officers of the 1st Madras Fusiliers (Europeans), of which regiment five more companies were in the rear, expecting to reach that city in a few days. The regiment had been despatched in great haste by Viscount Canning, in the hope that it would appear before Cawnpore in time to relieve Sir Hugh Wheeler and his unfortunate companions. Neill intended, after a day’s repose, to have started from Benares for Cawnpore on the 4th; but he received timely notice from Lieutenant Palliser that the 17th B. N. I. had mutinied at Azimghur; and that the treasure, passing through Azimghur in its way from Goruckpore to Benares (mentioned in the last paragraph), had been plundered by the mutinous sepoys. Brigadier Ponsonby, the commandant at Benares, at once consulted with Colonel Neill concerning the propriety of disarming the 37th regiment Bengal infantry, stationed at that city. Neill recommended this to be done, and done at once. It was then arranged that Neill should make his appearance on parade at five o’clock that same afternoon, accompanied by a hundred and fifty of H.M. 10th foot, sixty of the Madras Fusiliers, and three guns of No. 12 field-battery, with thirty artillerymen. They were to be joined on parade by the Sikh regiment, in which Lieutenant-colonel Gordon placed full confidence, and about seventy of the 13th irregular cavalry. The 37th, suspecting what was intended, ran to the bells of arms, seized and loaded their muskets, and fired upon the Europeans; several men fell wounded, and the brigadier was rendered powerless by a sun stroke. Thereupon Colonel Neill, assuming the command, made a dash on the native lines. What was now the perplexity of the colonel, and the mortification of Gordon, at seeing the Sikhs halt, waver, turn round, wound several of their officers, fire at the Europeans, and disperse! It was one of those inexplicable movements so frequently exhibited by the native troops. Neill, now distrusting all save the Europeans, opened an effective fire with his three guns, expelled the 37th from their lines, burnt the huts, and then secured his own men and guns in the barrack for the night. Early on the morning of the 5th he sent out parties, and brought in such of the arms and accoutrements of the 37th as had been left behind; he also told off a strong body to bring the Company’s treasure from the civil offices to the barracks. Colonel Neill fully believed that if he had delayed his bold proceeding twelve hours, the ill-protected treasury would have been seized by the 37th, and that the numerous European families in the cantonment would have been placed in great peril before he could reach them. The barracks were between the cantonment and the city; and near them was a building called the mint. Into this mint, before going on parade on the 4th, he had arranged that all the families should go for refuge in the event of any disturbance taking place. A few of the Sikhs and of the irregular cavalry remained faithful; and Colonel Neill, with his two hundred and forty Europeans[21 - The exact components of this gallant little band appear to have been as follow:Irrespective of the officers belonging to the mutinous regiments.Irrespective of the officers belonging to the mutinous regiments.] and these fragments of native regiments, contrived to protect the city, the barracks, the mint, and the cantonment – a trying task, to defend so large an area from mutinous sepoys and troopers, and predatory budmashes. He had to record the deaths of Captain Guise, an army-surgeon, and two privates; and the wounding of about double this number – casualties surprising for their lightness, considering that there were nearly two thousand enemies to contend against altogether. Of the insurgents, not less than two hundred were killed or wounded. It was at once determined to strengthen the neighbouring fort of Chunar or Chunargur; for which duty a small detachment of Europeans was drafted off.

Such were the military operations of the 4th and 5th of June, as told in the brief professional language of Colonel Neill. Various officers and civilians afterwards dwelt more fully on the detailed incidents of those two days. The 13th irregular cavalry and the Sikhs (Loodianah regiment) had been relied on as faithful; and the 37th had greatly distinguished itself in former years in the Punjaub and Afghanistan. This infantry regiment, however, exhibited signs of insubordination on the 1st of the month; and on the 3d, Lieutenant-colonel Gordon, second in command under Ponsonby, told the brigadier that the men of the 37th were plotting with the ruffians of the city. The brigadier, Mr Tucker the commissioner, and Mr Gubbins the judge, thereupon conferred; and it was almost fully determined, even before Colonel Neill’s arrival, and before the receipt of disastrous news from Azimghur, that the disbandment of the regiment would be a necessary measure of precaution. The irregular cavalry were stationed at Sultanpore and Benares, and were called in to aid the Europeans and Sikhs in the disarming. A few of the officers, unlike their brethren, distrusted these troopers; and the distrust proved to be well founded. The Sikhs, at the hour of need, fell away as soon as the 37th had seized their arms; and the irregulars were not slow to follow their example; so that, in effect, the insurgents were to the Europeans in the ratio of eight or ten to one. One of the English officers of the 37th has placed upon record a few facts shewing how strangely unexpected was this among many of the Indian outbreaks, by the very men whose position and experience would naturally lead them (one might suppose) to have watched for symptoms. In the first instance, Major Barrett, indignant at the slight which he believed to have been put upon the good and faithful sepoys of the 37th, by the order for disarming, went openly towards the regiment during the struggle at the bells of arms, to shew his confidence in them; but when he saw some of his men firing at him, and others approach him with fixed bayonets, he felt painfully that he must both change his opinions and effect a retreat. Some of the 37th did, however, remain ‘true to their salt;’ and these, under the major, who had escaped the shots aimed at him, were among the troops sent to guard Chunar Fort. As a second instance: after Captain Guise, of the 13th irregulars, had been shot down by men of the 37th, the brigadier appointed Captain Dodgson to supply his place; but the irregulars, instead of obeying him, flashed their swords, muttered some indistinct observations, fired at him, and at once joined the rebels whom they had been employed and expected to oppose. A third instance, in relation to the Sikhs, shall be given in the words of the officer above adverted to: ‘Just as the irregulars were flashing their swords in reply to Captain Dodgson’s short address, I was horrified by noticing about a dozen of the Sikhs fire straight forward upon the European soldiers, who were still kneeling and firing into the 37th. The next moment some half-dozen of their muskets were staring me in the face, and a whole tempest of bullets came whizzing towards me. Two passed through my forage-cap, and set my hair on fire; three passed through my trousers, one just grazing my right thigh. I rushed headlong at one of the fellows whom I had noticed more especially aiming at me, but had scarcely advanced three paces when a second volley of bullets saluted me.’ This volley brought the officer low; he lay among the wounded, unrecognised for many hours, but was fortunate enough to obtain surgical aid in time to avert a fatal result. Many circumstances afterwards came to light, tending to shew that, had not Neill and Ponsonby taken the initiative when they did, the native troops would probably have risen that same night, and perhaps imitated the Meerut outrages. One of the missionaries at Benares, who escaped to Chunar as soon as the outbreak occurred, said in a letter: ‘Some of the 37th have confessed to their officers that they had been told out in bands for our several bungalows, to murder all the Europeans at ten o’clock that night; and that, too, at the time they were volunteering to go to Delhi, and Colonel Spottiswoode was walking about among them in plain clothes with the most implicit confidence.’


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