« AnteriorContinuar »
dual having the appearance or dress Division ; Colonel R. Lawrence, Comof a Christian, whether man, woman, mandant of the Punjab Police ; Maor child-had been murdered ! jor Ommancy, Chief Engineer of
Such tidings might well appal the the Punjab, and his assistant, Capstoutest hearts in the strongest and tain Hutchinson of the Engineers. least exposed stations of India; but They all concurred in the opinion of on Lahore they fell with portentous Mr Montgomery, that prompt vigorimport. This vast city, the political ous measures were necessary to precapital of the Punjab, peopled by serve the peace of the city, and to hereditary soldiers-Sikh and Mo- prevent an emeute on the part of the hammedan; from the former of whom Mean-Meer Sepoys. Accordingly, Mr the spirit of the Singh Gooroo, and Montgomery, accompanied by Colo“the Baptism of the Sword,” had nel Macpherson, proceeded at once not wholly passed away; while of to Mean-Meer, to inform Brigadier the latter class-rising up, under Corbett of the telegraphic intelliBritish protection and favour, from gence, and to urge on him the imthe degradation and thraldom to portance of prompt decisive action ; which the Sikh rule had reduced and for such a course they found the them, and waiting only the oppor- Brigadier by no means indisposed. tunity to change their present state His plan, at once formed, was to deof seeming content and quiet into prive the native troops of their ama more genial course of marauding munition and gun-caps, and to throw and bloodshed,—this city, with its additional Europeans into the Foit. 90,000 inhabitants, could at a word As the day, however, advanced, ingive forth hundreds who would be telligence was received that gave to only too ready to emulate the atro- the impending danger a more formicities of the Meerut and Delhi mon dable character. It was discovered sters. Nor was it from the city by an intelligent Sikh, a non-comalone that danger was to be appre- missioned officer in the police corps, hended. At the military canton- that a deep-laid conspiracy had been ment of Mean-Meer, six miles off, formed by the Mean - Meer native were quartered four native regi- troops, involving the safety of the ments, three of infantry and one of Lahore Fort and the lives of all the cavalry, with comparatively but a European residents in the cantonsmall force of Europeans, consisting ments, and the civil station of Anarof the Queen's 81st, with two troops kullee. of horse-artillery and four reserve In order to make the character of companies of foot-artillery. It was this conspiracy intelligible, it is neat this time unknown how far the cessary to introduce a few remarks native regiments in the Punjab explanatory. The Fort, which is might be tainted with the spirit of situated within the city walls, is ormutiny which had shown itself in dinarily garrisoned by one company those quartered in Bengal and the of the European regiment, one comNorth-West Provinces.
pany of Foot Artillery, and a wing In the absence of Sir John Law- of one of the native regiments from rence, the Chief Commissioner, who Mean-Meer; the chief object of this was then at Rawul Pindee, the duty force in the citadel being to keep a of meeting the threatened emergency check on the city, and to guard the devolved on the Judicial Commis Government Treasury. During the sioner, Mr Montgomery. Immedi- former half of May, the 26th N.I. had ately 'on receipt of the telegraph- furnished the wing on guard, which ic message on the 12th of May), was in due course to be relieved on he assembled in Council his col- the 15th of the month by a wing of league Mr D. M‘Leod, the Financial the 49th N.I. It was arranged by the Commissioner, with Colonel Mac- conspirators, that while the wings pherson, the Military Secretary to of both regiments were in the Fort the Chief Commissioner ; Mr A. Ro- together, in the act of relief, amountberts, Commissioner of the Lahore ing to some 1100 men, they were
* All detachments sent on guard are made up to their full strength. VOL. LXXXIII.-NO, DVII,
to rush on their officers, seize the British strongholds, from the Ravee gates, take possession of the citadel, to the Sutlej, in the hands of the the magazine, and the treasury ; to mutineers, and the life of every overpower the small body of Euro- Englishman at their mercy. But we peans, some 80 men of H.M. 81st, have anticipated. The danger, even and 70 of the artillery, not above to the extent then discovered, was 150 in all; and an empty hospital imminent, for on the issue of the in the deserted lines at Aparkullee, struggle between order and mutiny close by, was to be set on fire as a at Lahore, it was felt that the peace signal to their comrades at Mean- of the whole Punjab probably deMeer that their plot had succeeded. pended; and only a few hours reThe rise was then to become general mained in wbich it would be possible in cantonments, the guns to be to counteract the plot and avert the seized, the central jail forced, its catastrophe. In this emergency the 2000 prisoners liberated, and a pro- original qualified measures agreed on miscuous massacre of the Europeans in the morning appeared to Brigadier to crown their triumph! Such was Corbett to be wholly ineffectual ; and the nature of the conspiracy then in spite of the jealousy for the good partially disclosed, and subsequently name of their regiments, which, not discovered in its fuller details. unnaturally perhaps, led their re
To what extent this well-planned spective commandants to doubt the scheme might have succeeded, God truth of the rumoured conspiracy, or be thanked, it is not necessary now to repudiate for their own men the to conjecture. His mercy in per- charge of complicity, the Brigadier mitting its timely discovery alone resolved on the bold, almost despersaved hundreds from the snare thus ate, and unprecedented step of dislaid for them. For the seizure of the arming the whole of the native troops Fort and magazine, the co-operation in the station. To arrange for this of the bud mashes (vagabonds) of the coup d'état with the strictest secresy, city, and the massacre of the great lest a whisper of the plan should bebody of Christian residents in the tray and ruin all, was the anxious unprotected civil stations of Anar- work of that afternoon. kullee, would most probably have It so happened that the gay world been effected ; and the only hope for of Mean-Meer, in the enjoyment of a the force in cantonments lay in the fancied security, had selected that possibility of the 81st Queen's and evening (12th May) for a large ball, the artillery being able to intrench which was to be given by the Station and fortify themselves in some part to the officers of H.M. 81st regiment, of the station, until the arrival of in acknowledgment of their proversuccours from without. Nor, as bial hospitality. The discovery of has been subsequently discovered, this conspiracy made some of the was this conspiracy confined to La- authorities suggest the postponement hore. It was as widespread as it of the ball ; but it was wisely overwas deep-laid. Ferozepore, Phillour, ruled, as any such change might have Jullundhur, Umritsur, were included, led the Sepoys to infer the detection as it is now confidently believed. The of their plot. So the ball took place; 45th and 57th N.I. at Ferozepore but it could scarcely be said of it, as were to effect the seizure of that of the far - famed ball at Brussels magazine, with its munitions of war, which preceded the battle of Watersecond only in amount to those of loo, that Delhi itself; Phillour Fort, with its no inconsiderable magazine, and, what
“All went merry as a marriage-bell ;" was of even more importance, a posi- for, not to mention an air of anxiety tion on the banks of the Sutlej of and gloom which the most devoted such strategetical value as to entitle and lightest-hearted of the votaries it fully to the description of it by of Terpsichore could not altogether Sir Charles Napier, that it was the hake off, the room itself betrayed key of the Punjab," were to be taken signs of preparation, possession of by the 3d N.I. Thus
" For in each corner was it planned that the morning of The eye on stranger objects fell ; the 15th of May was to see the chief There arms were piled!"
and every officer knew where to find address was being read to the Sehis weapon in case of an attack. poys, the 81st should form into subThe evening, however, passed over divisions and fall back between the undisturbed, and dancing was kept guns— the 16th found themselves up till two in the morning. The confronted, not by a thin line of Euroscene then changed, with short inter- pean soldiers, but by twelve guns val, from the ball-room to the parade- loaded with grape, and port-fires ground!
burning; and heard the clear voice Here the whole brigade, European of Colonel Renny ordering his men and native, were, according to the to load, followed by the ominous orders of the previous day, assembled; ring of each ramrod as it drove home avowedly to hear the general order its ball-cartridge. Conviction was read, disbanding a portion of the carried to the heart of the waverers ; 34th N. I. at Barrackpore ; but they sullenly piled arms—as also really to enact a drama which, for did the 49th N. I., and the portion originality and boldness of design, is of the 26th L. I., while the 8th without precedent in the annals of Cavalry unbuckled and dropped their Indian history. To witness it An- sabres. arkullee sent all her leading civil Thus were some 2500 native soldiers ians, whose anxious faces betokened disarmed in the presence of scarcely the momentous importance which 600 Europeans, and were marched was attached to its success. The off to their lines comparatively harmgeneral order was duly read at the less ! heads of the several native regi But the safety of the Fort had also ments, when, as if to form a part of to be provided for. Major Spencer, the brigade mancuvres of the day, who commanded the wing of the the whole of the troops were coun 26th L. I. in the Fort, had received termarched, so as to face inwards, private intimation that his wing on one side the native regiments at would be relieved on the morning of quarter-column distance, and in the 13th instead of on the 15th, and front of them the 81st Queen's (only a hint was given to the officers of the five companies), in line, with the detachment, that, however reluctantguns along their rear. Then came ly, their presence must be dispensed the critical moment. Lieutenant with at the ball. By daylight on the Mocatta, adjutant of the 26th N. I., following morning, three companies advanced and read an address, ex of the 81st under Colonel Smith plaining to the Sepoys that the entered the Fort, to the utter dismay mutinous spirit which pervaded so of the Sepoys, who were at once many regiments down country had ordered to lay down their arms-an rendered it necessary to adopt mea order which they obeyed without sures--not so much for the peace of demur, conscience-stricken probably, the country, which the British could and awed at the suspicion that their maintain, as for the sake of pre- murderous scheme was detected. No serving untarnished the names of time was lost in marching them off regiments,* whose colours told of to their own lines in Mean-Meer; so many glorious battle-fields; and and there awaited them the tidings that it had been therefore deter- of a similar fate having involved their mined by the Brigadier to take from crestfallen comrades. them the opportunity of ruining The immediate danger was thus their own character, should design- averted ;, but the future had also to ing malcontents attempt to involve be provided for. Strong pickets of them in mutiny and its ruinous con- Europeans were posted in different sequences. The order was then given parts of the station; one in the 81st to" pile arms.” A slight hesitation lines, a second on the Artillery and delay were perceptible among parade-ground, and a third, the the 16th Grenadiers, to whom the strongest of all
, in an open space in order was first given ; but it hav- the centre of cantonments (where ing been prearranged that, while the the Brigadier and his Staff slept
* The 16th Grenadiers especially. They were among General Knott's “noble Sepoys" at Candahar and Ghuzee.
every night). The ladies and children quences of prompt, vigorous meawere accommodated with quarters in sures. In Mr Montgomery he found the barracks, where, in the event of no “timorous counsels,” none of that any rise, they might be in greater perplexing interference for which security; and the officers of the some POLITICALS have obtained an several regiments were required to unenviable notoriety at the pen of sleep in particular houses in their many a gallant soldier, but one ready respective lines, which admitted of to play his part in that struggle as more ready defence against attack. became an Englishman and a Chris
Nor were these precautionary mea tian. sures confined to Lahore. Though Nor was it only in concurrence with the danger which, as has been since Brigadier Corbett that Mr Montdiscovered, threatened the posts and gomery thus distinguished himself. magazines of Ferozepore, Umritsur, Leaving the details of the great miliand Phillour, was not then known, tary movements to the Brigadier, his the value of these posts, and the im- attention was directed to the dangers portance of strengthening them, were which might threaten the peace of at once apparent; and therefore the district around. Acting for, and measures were at once adopted for in the absence of, the Chief Commistheir safety. An express messenger sioner, he at once advised the rewas despatched to Brigadier Innes at moval of all treasure from the smaller Ferozepore, to put him on his guard; civil stations to places of greater and to Umritsur, or rather the adja- security ;, urging its being immecent fort of Govindgurh, a company diately taken out of the charge of the of H.M. 81st foot, under Lieutenant Hindustanee guards, and escorted by Chichester, was posted off in ekkas;* Punjabee police.
Punjabee police. He also suggestwhile a company of foot - artillery ed the stoppage of all Sepoys' letunder Lieutenant Hildebrand was ters passing through the post-offices; sent to occupy the fort at Phillour. and to these and other similar in
Such were the military arrange- structions he added, in a circular to ments planned during the afternoon all district officers, the following adof the 12th of May, and carried into vice : “Whilst acting vigorously, and effect by daylight on the following being alive to the great importance morning.
of this crisis, I would earnestly sugMost providential was it that the gest calmness and quietness : there Lahore Brigade was at this crisis should be no signs of alarm or exciteunder the command of such an officer ment; but be prepared to act, and as Colonel Stuart Corbett. Seven- have the best information from every and-thirty years of active life in India source at your disposal," -- advice had given him such an insight into the which his own example so admirably native character as to enable him to enforced, eliciting from the Chief estimate rightly the impending dan- Commissioner, in an official form, ger, without having robbed him of the testimony that Mr Montgomery, that vigour of body and energy of “neglecting no precaution, admits of mind which were needed to cope with no alarm, and inspires all with consuch a difficulty. Happy, too, was he fidence and zeal.” in possessing that rarest of gifts in Scarcely less important than the India, a courage, not so much to face Fort at Lahore was that of Govindan enemy in the field, as to brave the gurh at Umritsur. Its real value censure of some secretariat pen twelve does not consist in its occupying hundred miles off--a contempt for any commanding position in a milithat bugbear of so many Indian ofti- tary point of view, or in containing cials, the fear of responsibility; for any arsenal, like Ferozepore and thus only was Brigadier Corbett en- Phillour ; nor in its strength of conabled to meet the emergency and to struction, though that has obtained rise with the crisis. Happily also he for it a European reputation, so had, in the chief civil authority at much as in its national religious hand, one every way fitted to coun character. The possession of it, like sel and prepared to share the conse the possession of the famed Koh-i
* Ekkas are light native carts drawn by ponies.
noor, carried with it the_talismanic proves that, however much they pledge of power. If this Fort, sacred might have been tampered with by from its proximity to their holy city, emissaries of sedition in the disguise named after their warrior Gooroo of faqueers, &c. the spirit of disaffec(Govind Sing), and rich in traditions tion had spread but little in their and relics of their race and faith, had ranks. The cartridge grievance havonce been wrested from our hands, ing been explained to them by their the prestige of the English name officers, and its falseness exposed bewould have been imperilled in the eyes fore their eyes by a committee of of the whole Sikh people ; our Ikbal their own men being appointed to (good fortune) would have been examine and test the suspected cardoubted; and, in the belief that our tridges, their fears and doubts were, rule was really passing away, as they said, wholly removed, and Khalsa might have risen to their conduct generally was decorous make common
the and quiet. On the night of the 14th Poorbeah,” whether hated Moham- there was an alarm that the dismedan or despised Hindoo, in ex armed Sepoys at Lahore had risen, pelling a common enemy who had and were marching down on Umrithumbled them all, but whom Heaven sur. A small force, consisting of a itself now seemed to be deserting: detachment of the 59th N. I., with All this was involved in the safety of some civil sowars (troopers) and polGovindgurh.
ice, was sent out on the Lahore road The force in the Fort and the ad- to oppose them, and the ladies and jacent cantonment was but small. children retired for the night into the One company of European artillery, Fort. The alarm, however, proved to under Captain Macleod, occupied the be false, and the station resumed its Fort, the guards being supplied by a
usual quiet. detachment of the 59th N. I. from But the city of Umritsur, with its the station, where also was a com vast population, continued, and not pany of foot-artillery (native) and a without cause, to be for some time light field-battery. "It has been men an object of great anxiety. Here the tioned already that the Lahore au Sikhs greatly preponderated; and the thorities included the strengthening Mohammedans, though forming a of Govindgurh in the measures so powerful body, could, without much promptly decided upon on the memor- difficulty, be kept under by their able 12th of May. The company of more numerous rivals. In such a H. M. 81st, despatched by the Bri- population the embers of religious gadier for that purpose in ekkas animosity were continually smoulunder Lieutenant Chichester, entered dering; and the true policy at such the Fort before daylight on the morn a crisis was to prevent their being ing of the 14th, having started from entirely extinguished, and, at the Lahore in the evening, after the dis same time, to guard against their arming of the native troops, and ac- bursting out into open flame. In complishing the intervening thirty their jealous rivalry lay our security. miles in a single night. The com To keep the two classes thus in pany of European artillery, which mutual check — to counterbalance had been destined for Phillour, was race by race, and creed by creeddetained by the Umritsur authorities was the great aim of the Deputyfor the greater security of Govind- Commissioner, Mr F. Cooper, on ghur, while Captain Waddy's battery whom this duty devolved. His tact was moved from cantoninents within and energy commanded success. His the Fort walls. The 59th Regiment great personal influence and unreN. I. has perhaps less than any other mitting exertions secured the coregiment in the Punjab, excepting operation of the leaders of both the noble 21st N. I. at Peshawur, classes, without shaking the confallen under suspicion ; and their fidence of either; and thus the peace conduct then and subsequently, as of the city of Umritsur was never we shall have occasion to show, disturbed.
* The Khalsa literally means the elect or chosen, a title of honour assumed by the Sikhs when they conquered the Punjab.