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


• One battalion of 60th Rifles.

Company’s Regular Troops

• Three brigades of horse-artillery, European and native.

• Six battalions of European foot-artillery.

• Three battalions of native foot-artillery.

• Corps of Royal Engineers.

• Ten regiments of native light cavalry.

• Two regiments of European fusiliers.

• Seventy-four regiments of native infantry.

• One regiment of Sappers and Miners.

Irregular and Contingent Troops

• Twenty-three regiments of irregular native cavalry.

• Twelve regiments of irregular native infantry.

• One corps of Guides.

• One regiment of camel corps.

• Sixteen regiments of local militia.

• Shekhawuttie brigade.

• Contingents of Gwalior, Jhodpore, Malwah, Bhopal, and Kotah.

The European troops here mentioned, in the Company’s regular army, are those who have been enlisted in England or elsewhere by the Company’s agents, quite irrespective of the royal or Queen’s army. The above forces, altogether, amounted to somewhat over 150,000 men. Let us now glance at another presidency:

MADRAS PRESIDENCY

Queen’s Troops

• One regiment of light cavalry.

• Five regiments of infantry.

Company’s Regular Troops

• One brigade of horse-artillery, European and native.

• Four battalions of European foot-artillery.

• One battalion of native foot-artillery.

• Corps of Royal Engineers.

• Eight regiments of native light cavalry.

• Two regiments of European infantry.

• Fifty-two regiments of native infantry.

No irregular or contingent troops appear in this entry.

BOMBAY PRESIDENCY

Queen’s Troops

• One regiment of light cavalry.

• Five regiments of infantry.

Company’s Regular Troops

• One brigade of horse-artillery, European and native.

• Two battalions of European foot-artillery.

• Two battalions of native foot-artillery.

• Corps of Royal Engineers.

• Three regiments of native light cavalry.

• Two regiments of European infantry.

• Twenty-nine regiments of native infantry.

Irregular and Contingent Troops

• Fifteen regiments of irregular native troops.

The European and the native troops of the Company are not here separated, although in effect they form distinct regiments. So costly are all the operations connected with the Anglo-Indian army, that it has been calculated that every English soldier employed in the East, whether belonging to the Queen’s or to the Company’s forces, costs, on an average, one hundred pounds before he becomes available for service, including his outfit, his voyage, his marching and barracking in India. This of course relates to the privates; an officer’s cost is based upon wholly distinct grounds, and can with difficulty be estimated. The greatly increased expenditure of the Company on military matters has partly depended on the fact that the European element in the armies has been regularly augmenting: in 1837 there were 28,000 European troops in India; in 1850 the number was 44,000, comprising 28,000 Queen’s troops, and 16,000 belonging to the Company; while the new charter of 1854 allowed the Company to raise 24,000, of whom 4000 were to be in training in England, and the rest on service in India. What was the number in 1857, becomes part of the history of the mutiny. In the whole Indian army, a year or two before this catastrophe, there were about 5000 European officers, governing the native as well as the European regiments; but of this number, so many were absent on furlough or leave, so many more on staff appointments, and so many of the remainder in local corps and on civil duties, that there was an insufficiency of regimental control – leading, as some authorities think, in great part to the scenes of insubordination; for the native officers, as we shall presently see, were regarded in a very subordinate light. There was a commander-in-chief for each of the three presidencies, controlling the three armies respectively; while one of the three, the commander-in-chief of the Bengal army, held at the same time the office of commander-in-chief of the whole of the armies of India, in order that there might be a unity of plan and purpose in any large combined operations. Thus, when Sir Colin Campbell went out to India in the summer of 1857, his power was to be exerted over the armies of the whole of India generally, as well as over that of Bengal in particular.

Continuing to speak of the Indian army as it was before the year 1857, and thereby keeping clear of the changes effected or commenced in that year, we proceed to mention a few more circumstances connected with the Company’s European element in that army. The formation of an Indian officer commenced in England. As a youth, from fourteen to eighteen years of age, he was admitted to the Company’s school at Addiscombe, after an ordeal of recommendations and testimonials, and after an examination of his proficiency in an ordinary English education, in which a modicum of Latin was also expected. A probation of six months was gone through, to shew whether he possessed the requisite abilities and inclination; and if this probation were satisfactory, his studies were continued for two years. His friends paid the larger portion of the cost of his maintenance and education at the school. If his abilities and progress were of a high class, he was set apart for an appointment in the engineers; if next in degree, in the artillery; and if the lowest in degree, for the infantry. At the end of his term the pupil must have attained to a certain amount of knowledge, of which, however, very little was professional. Supposing all to be satisfactory, he became a military cadet in the service of the Company, to be available for Indian service as occasion arose. Having joined one of the regiments as the lowest commissioned officer, his subsequent advancement depended in part on his qualifications and in part on seniority. He could not, by the more recent regulations of the Company, become a captain until he had acquired, besides his professional efficiency, a knowledge of the spoken and written Hindustani language, and of the Persian written character, much used in India. When placed on the general staff, his services might be required in any one of a number of ways quite unknown in the Queen’s service in England: he might have a civil duty, or be placed at the head of the police in a tract of country recently evacuated by the military, or be made an adjutant, auditor, quartermaster, surveyor, paymaster, judge-advocate, commissary-general, brigade-major, aid-de-camp, barrack-master, or clothing agent. Many of these offices being lucrative, the military liked them; but such a bestowal created some jealousy among the civil servants of the Company, whose prizes in the Indian lottery were thereby diminished; and, what was worse, it shook the connection between an officer and his regiment, rendering him neither able nor willing to throw his sympathies into his work. No officer could hold any of these staff appointments, as they were called, until he had been two years in the army.

The officers noticed in the last paragraph were appointed to the command both of European and of native regiments. As to privates and non-commissioned officers in the European regiments, they were much the same class of men, and enlisted much in the same way, as those in the Queen’s army. The privates or sepoys of the native regiments were of course different, not only from Europeans, but different among themselves. Four-fifths of the Bengal native infantry were Hindoos, mainly of the Brahmin and Rajpoot castes; and the remainder Mohammedans. On the other hand, three-fourths of the Bengal native cavalry were Mohammedans, the Hindoos being generally not equal to them as troopers. In the Madras native army, the Mohammedans predominated in the cavalry, while the infantry comprised the two religions in nearly equal proportions. In Bombay, nearer the nations of Western Asia, the troops comprised volunteers of many countries and many religions – more easily managed, our officers found, on that account.

Without at present going into the question how far the religious feelings and caste prejudices of the natives induced a revolt, it may be useful to shew how a regiment was constituted, of what materials, and in what gradations. An infantry regiment in the Bengal presidency will serve as a type.
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