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1857]

ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE ASSAULT

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In anticipation of an attack on Delhi, preparations had been commenced early in September, one of the first of these being to form a trench to the left of the 'Sammy House,' at the end of which a battery was constructed for four 9-pounders and two 24-pounder howitzers. The object of this battery was to prevent sorties from the Lahore or Kabul gates passing round the city wall to annoy our breaching batteries, and also to assist in keeping down the fire from the Mori bastion.* This battery, moreover, led the enemy to believe that we should attack them from our right, whereas it had been resolved to push the main attack from our left, where we could approach nearer to the walls under cover, and where our flank was completely protected by the river. The Engineers had also employed themselves in getting ready 10,000 fascines, as many gabions, and 100,000 sand-bags, besides field-magazines, scaling-ladders, and spare platforms.

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On the 7th September Wilson issued an order informing the force that arrangements for the assault would be commenced at once. He dwelt upon the hardships and fatigue which had been cheerfully borne by officers and men, and expressed his hope that they would be rewarded for their past labours, and for a cheerful endurance of still greater fatigue and exposure.' He reminded the troops of the reasons for the deadly struggle in which they were engaged, and he called upon all ranks to co-operate heart and soul in the arduous work now before them.

Ground was broken that evening. Unfortunately Baird-Smith was not able to personally superintend the construction of the breaching batteries, but he had in his second-in-command, Alex. Taylor, a thoroughly practical Engineer, who not only knew how to work himself, but how to get work out of others. Ever alert and cheerful, he was trusted and looked up to by all his subordinates, and was of all others the very man to be placed in charge of such a difficult and dangerous duty.

The first battery, known as No. 1, was traced out in two parts, about 700 yards from the Mori bastion, which the right half, with its five 18-pounders and one 8-inch howitzer, was intended to silence; while the left half, with its four 24-pounders, was to hold the Kashmir bastion in check.

All night the Engineers worked at the battery, but although before day broke it was nearly finished and armed, it was not ready to open fire until close on sunrise. The enemy did not fail to take advantage of this chance. They poured in round after round of shot and grape, causing many casualties. Their fire slackened as our guns were gradually able to make themselves felt, and by the afternoon it was silenced. Nothing remained of the Mori bastion but a heap of ruins. No. 1

* Norman's narrative.

ers.

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I was posted to the left half of No. 2 battery, and had charge of the two right guns. At eight o'clock on the morning of the 11th September we opened fire on the Kashmir bastion and the adjoining curtain, and as the shots told and the stones flew into the air and rattled down, a loud cheer burst from the Artillerymen and some of the men of the Carabineers and 9th Lancers who had volunteered to work in the batteries. The enemy had got our range with wonderful accuracy, and immediately on the screen in front of the right gun being removed, a round shot came through the embrasure, knocking two or three of us On regaining my feet, I found that the young Horse Artilleryman who was serving the vent while I was laying the gun had had his right arm taken off.

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In the evening of the same day, when, wearied with hard work and exhausted by the great heat, we were taking a short rest, trusting to the shelter of the battery for protection, a shower of grape came into us, severely wounding our commander, Campbell, whose place was taken by Edwin Johnson. We never left the battery until the day of the assault-the 14th-except to go by turns into Ludlow Castle for our meals. Night and day the overwhelming fire was continued, and the incessant boom and roar of guns and mortars, with the ceaseless rain of shot and shell on the city, warned the mutineers that their punishment was at hand. We were not, however, allowed to have it all our own way. Unable to fire a gun from any of the three bastions we were breaching, the enemy brought guns into the open and enfiladed our batteries. They sent rockets from their martello towers, and they maintained a perfect storm of musketry from their advanced trench and from the city walls. No part of the attack was left unsearched by their fire, and though three months' incessant practice had made our men skilful in using any cover they had, our losses were numerous, 327 officers and men being killed and wounded between the 7th and 14th September.

On the evening of the 13th September Nicholson came to see whether we gunners had done our work thoroughly enough to warrant the assault being made the next morning. He was evidently satisfied, for when he entered our battery he said: 'I must shake hands with you fellows; you have done your best to make my work easy to-morrow.'

Nicholson was accompanied by Taylor, who had to make certain that the breaches were practicable, and for this purpose he detailed four subaltern officers of Engineers to go to the walls as soon as it was dark, and report upon the condition they were in. Greathed and Home were told off for the Water bastion breach, and Medley and Lang* for that of the Kashmir bastion. Lang asked to be allowed to go while it was yet daylight; Taylor agreed, and with an escort of four men of the 60th Rifles he crept to the edge of the cover in the Kudsiabagh, * Colonel Arthur Lang is the only one of the four now alive.

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