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1857]

PUSHING ON TO DELHI

81

On driving to the dâk-bungalow I found it crowded with officers, some of whom had been waiting there for days for an opportunity to go on to Delhi; they laughed at me when I expressed my intention of proceeding at once, and told me that the seats on the mail-carts had to be engaged several days in advance, and that I might make up my mind to stay where I was for some time to come. I was not at all prepared for this, and I determined to get on by hook or by crook; as a preliminary measure, I made friends with the postmaster, from whose office the mail-carts started. From him I learnt that my only chance was to call upon the Deputy-Commissioner, by whose orders the seats were distributed. I took the postmaster's advice, and thus became acquainted with Douglas Forsyth, who in later years made a name for himself by his energetic attempts to establish commercial relations with Yarkand and Kashgar. Forsyth confirmed what I had already heard, but told me that an extra cart was to be despatched that night, laden with small-arm ammunition, on which I could, if I liked, get a seat, adding: 'Your kit must be of the smallest, as there will be no room for anything inside the cart.'

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I returned to the dak-bungalow, overjoyed at my success, to find myself quite an important personage, with everyone my friend, like the boy at school who is the lucky recipient of a hamper from home. Take me with you!' was the cry on all sides. Only two others besides the driver and myself could possibly go, and then only by carrying our kits in our laps. It was finally arranged that Captain Law and Lieutenant Packe should be my companions. Packe was lamed for life by a shot through his ankle before we had been fortyeight hours at Delhi, and Law was killed on the 23rd July, having greatly distinguished himself by his gallantry and coolness under fire during the short time he served with the force.

We got to Kurnal soon after daybreak on the 28th. It was occupied by a few of the Raja of Jhind's troops, a Commissariat officer, and one or two civilians, who were trying to keep the country quiet and collect supplies. Before noon we passed through Panipat, where there was a strong force of Patiala and Jhind troops, and early in the afternoon we reached Alipur. Here our driver pulled up, declaring he would go no further. A few days before there had been a sharp fight on the road between Alipur and Delhi, not far from Badli-ki-Serai, where the battle of the 8th June had taken place, and as the enemy were constantly on the road threatening the rear of the besieging force, the driver did not consider it safe to go on. We could not, however, stop at Alipur, so after some consultation we settled to take the mail-cart ponies and ride on to camp. We could hear the boom of guns at intervals, and as we neared Delhi we came across several dead bodies of the enemy. It is a curious fact that most of these bodies were exactly like mummies; there was nothing disagreeable about them.

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column were complete strangers to him, and he to them, and he was
ignorant of the characteristics and capabilities of the Native portion of
his troops.
It must, therefore, have been with an anxious heart that
he took over the command.

One of Barnard's first acts was to get rid of the unreliable element which Anson had brought away from Umballa. The Infantry he sent to Rohtuk, where it shortly afterwards mutinied, and the Cavalry to Meerut. That these troops should have been allowed to retain their weapons is one of the mysteries of the Mutiny. For more than two months their insubordination had been apparent, incendiarism had occurred which had been clearly traced to them, and they had even gone so far as to fire at their officers; both John Lawrence and Robert Montgomery had pressed upon the Commander-in-Chief the advisability of disarming them; but General Anson, influenced by the regimental officers, who could not believe in the disaffection of their men, had not grasped the necessity for this precautionary measure. The European soldiers with the column, however, did not conceal their mistrust of these sepoys, and Barnard acted wisely in sending them away; but it was extraordinary that they should have been allowed to keep their

arms.

On the 5th June Barnard reached Alipur, within ten miles of Delhi, where he decided to await the arrival of the siege-train and the troops from Meerut.

The Meerut brigade, under Brigadier Wilson, had started on the 27th May. It consisted of two squadrons of the Carabineers, Tombs's* troop of Horse Artillery, Scott's Field Battery and two 18-pounder guns, a wing of the 1st Battalion 60th Rifles, a few Native Sappers and Miners, and a detachment of Irregular Horse. Early on the 30th the village of Ghazi-u-din-nagar (now known as Ghaziabad) close to the Hindun river, and about eleven miles from Delhi, was reached. Thence it was intended to make a reconnaissance towards Delhi, but about four o'clock in the afternoon a vedette reported that the enemy were approaching in strength. A very careless look-out had been kept, for almost simultaneously with the report a round shot came tumbling into camp. The troops fell in as quickly as possible, and the Artillery came into action. The Rifles crossed the Hindun suspension bridge, and, under cover of our guns, attacked the enemy, who were strongly posted in a village. From this position they were speedily dislodged, and the victory was complete. Seven hundred British soldiers defeated seven times their number, capturing five guns and a large quantity of ammunition and stores. Our loss was one officer and ten men killed, and one officer and eighteen men wounded.

*The late Major-General Sir Harry Tombs, V.C., K.C. B.

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MAJOR-GENERAL SIR HARRY TOMBS, V.C., G.C.B.

From

a photograph by Messrs. Grillet and Co..

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