Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

the Bengal Artillery, in which capacity he had accompanied Brigadier Wilson from Meerut. He had a peculiarly bright intellect somewhat caustic, but always clever and amusing, He was a delightful companion, and invariably gained the confidence of those with whom he worked.

Johnson was the first person on whom I called to report my arrival and to find out with which troop or battery I was to do duty. He told me that the Quartermaster-General wished to keep me in his department. So, after visiting General Chamberlain,* who I knew would be anxious to hear all that had been going on in the Movable Column since his departure, I made my way to Colonel Becher, whom I found suffering from the severe wound he had received a few days before, and asked him what was to be my fate. He replied that the question had been raised of appointing an officer to help the Assistant-AdjutantGeneral of the Delhi Field Force, who found it impossible to carry on the daily increasing work single-handed, and that Chamberlain had thought of me for this post. Had Chamberlain's wish been carried out my career might have been quite changed, but while he was discussing the question with Sir Henry Barnard, Donald Stewart unexpectedly arrived in camp.

I was waiting outside Sir Henry Barnard's tent, anxious to hear what decision had been come to, when two men rode up, both looking greatly fatigued and half starved; one of them being Stewart. He told me they had had a most adventurous ride; but before waiting to hear his story,t I asked Norman to suggest Stewart for the new appointment a case of one word for Stewart and two for myself, I am afraid, for I had set my heart on returning to the QuartermasterGeneral's department. And so it was settled, to our mutual satisfaction, Stewart becoming the D.A.A.G. of the Delhi Field Force, and I the D.A.Q.M.G. with the Artillery.


THAT my readers may better understand our position at the time I joined the Delhi Field Force, I might, I think, quote with advantage from a letter written the very day of my arrival by General Barnard to Sir John Lawrence, in which he describes the difficulties of the situation, hitherto met by the troops with the most determined courage and endurance, but to which no end could be seen. When he took * Chamberlain had been given the rank of Brigadier-General on his arrival at Delhi.

The account of this adventurous ride is given in the Appendix.
See Kaye's 'History of the Indian Mutiny.'


able to silence at nd then to bring ay into the city, iling. But this possible to put a single one of one, while the to allow of our them. Under struct batteries renching tools, Engineers were ps were being cks to which hem. It was t was only by e ascertained, he scorching rd concluded ant combats. nd ourselves, , every living for the force


gan to arrive, y the follow(two British y, the Headdron of the newly-raised vas thus inforcements, n Jullundur, and arrived dge of boats Listinctly see

a their bands the enemy's a practically ne furnished

June, when Rao's house.

gst the latter It appeared




a photograph by Messrs. Elliott and Fry.


certain that these two officers were wounded by the Hindustanis of their own regiment; Packe, who was shot through the ankle, being so close up to the breastwork that it was scarcely possible for the bullet which hit him to have come from the front. Consequently all the Hindustanis in the 4th Sikhs were disarmed and turned out of camp, as it was manifestly undesirable to have any but the most loyal soldiers in our ranks.

In the afternoon of the same day I was ordered to accompany a column under Brigadier Showers, sent on reconnoitring duty towards the Idgah, where we heard that the enemy were again constructing a battery. It had not been commenced, but the intention to build one was evident, for we found a number of entrenching tools, and a quantity of sandbags.

The question of attempting to take the city by a coup de main was now again discussed. It was urged that our numbers, already small, were being daily reduced by casualties and sickness; that the want of proper equipment rendered it impossible to undertake regular siege operations; and that a rising in the Punjab was imminent. The chances of success were certainly more favourable than they were on the 13th June. The force to be employed was stronger; all concernedthe staff, commanders, and troops-were fully apprised of what was intended, and of the part they would have to play; above all, the details of the scheme, which was drawn up on much the same lines as the former one, were carefully worked out by Lieutenant Alex. Taylor, who had recently come into camp, and was acting temporarily as Commanding Engineer.

Of the supreme importance of regaining possession of Delhi there can be no doubt whatever. But nevertheless the undertaking would, at that time, have been a most desperate one, and only to be justified by the critical position in which we were placed. In spite of the late reinforcements, we were a mere handful compared with the thousands within the walls. Success, therefore, depended on the completeness of the surprise; and, as we could make no movement without its being perceived by the enemy, surprise was impossible. Another strong

reason against assaulting at that time was the doubtful attitude of some of the Hindustani Cavalry still with us; the whole of the effective troops, too, would have to be employed, and the sick and wounded-a large number-left to the mercy of the Native followers.

General Barnard carefully weighed all the arguments for and against the proposal, and at last reluctantly consented to the attack being made, but the discovery of a conspiracy amongst the Natives in camp caused it to be countermanded-a great disappointment to many, and there was much cavilling and discontent on the part of some, who * Now General Sir Alexander Taylor, G.C.B.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »