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The Poorbeah Mutiny : The Punjab.—No. V.
and effectually cut off in their downward march. Loudly as men might complain of the retrograde march, condemning it as objectless, the event disclosed its object, and showed its wisdom. On the morning of the 8th, the 59th Native Infantry had been paraded; and Nicholson, to remove the somewhat natural fear that they were to share the fate of the 33d and 35th Native Infantry, had complimented them on their general good conduct, and assured them that he rejoiced in having no reason for disarming them. That day the telegraphic message came in from Mr Montgomery, reporting the imperfect success of the Jhelum affair. A necessity now arose, which had not existed a few hours before, although this upward march had been made in anticipation of its possibility, and the Column was now on the spot to meet it. On the following morning, the 9th of July, some wretched rebel was doomed to be executed. The General ordered down the 69th Native Infantry to witness it. The spot always selected for this purpose was a large space of level ground between the city and Govindgurh Fort, about a mile from the cantonments. The 59th marched down ; the whole European column, her Majesty's 52d Light Infantry, Dawes's troop, and Bourchier's battery, were drawn up, forming three sides of a square. The execution proceeded; when it was over, the 59th were suddenly ordered to "pile arms;" they were taken wholly by surprise, but obeyed without a moment's hesitation. They laid down 450 stand of arms, which were at once carried off to the fort; the Sikhs were ordered to fall out; and the regiment marched back to its lines. It appeared to have been forgotten that only a part of the regiment were on parade, and that 450 formed only a small portion of their complement of arms. The corps proceeded to their lines crestfallen, but most orderly; they went to their kotes (bells of arms), and brought out nearly 700 more muskets, which they gave up to their officers, and helped to pack away to be carried off to the fort! There could surely have been then but little treason in that corps, or,
instead of thus voluntarily disarming themselves, they would have resented the disgrace to which they had been subjected by shooting down their officers, who were wholly at their mercy. Such an act will hardly be forgotten when the day of reckoning comes.
This occurred on the morning of Thursday the 9th of July; from that scene of order and apparent faithfulness we are suddenly carried to a scene of treachery and bloodshed, which was at that very moment being perpetrated at the neighbouring station of Sealkote.
The position of Sealkote had from the first been most precarious. The withdrawal of the whole European force in the end of May had left it wholly unprotected. A wing of the 9th Cavalry, with the 46th Native Infantry, remained there; and thus about a dozen officers belonging to these two corps, the Brigadier and his staff, with a few soldiers left to guard a small number of sick of her Majesty's 52d and artillery, who were too ill to be moved, not forty able-bodied men in all, constituted the European strength of the station; several ladies also, with their families, who could not be persuaded to leave, still remained: all these were in the power and at the caprice of some 250 mounted troopers, and at least 700 armed Sepoys. For six weeks, it may truly be said, every man's life was in his hand; they were all living, and they felt it too, on the edge of a mine of treason which might explode at any moment and destroy them all, while they were utterly powerless to avert it. The policy of Brigadier Brind, who commanded the station, was throughout to appear to place the fullest confidence in the native troops. To have acted otherwise could only have hastened the catastrophe. To the wisdom of that policy those six weeks of unbroken quiet are the best testimony. That it at length failed, under irresistible pressure from without, can cast no reflection on him. In the course of the 8th, private intelligence reached the civil authorities of the attempt to disarm the 14th at Jhelum, and their desperate resistance. It was communicated con
The Poorbeah Mutiny: The Punjab.—No. V.
Metitially to the Brigadier; he felt titat probably the fate of the station was sealed: but no effort they could make would at all avail to ward it
The news from Jhelum had also found its way into the lines, probably in an exaggerated report of the success of the mutineers. By an unhappy coincidence, a trooper of the 9th Cavalry had that day come in on leave from the left wing, and reported that the Column had reached Umritsur, and was probably coming on to disarm the Sealkote troops; moreover — which perhaps settled all—a foot-messenger arrived with a letter from the King of Delhi 1 * Thus did the clouds gather and close in on Sealkote on the night of the 8th July; and while the residents, ignorant that a more than ordinary danger was at hand, resigned themselves to rest, the traitorous troopers of the 9th Cavalry were planning with the utmost deliberation for their morning work of bloodshed, even to the placing pickets, mounted and armed, on every road by which escape was likely to be attempted, especially the one leading to the fort At gun-fire the outbreak commenced. The main picket, which the Brigadier had originally established on the south-west of cantonments (and always retained, as if to impress upon the Sepoys his belief that any danger that might befall Sealkote would come from without), marched off of their own accord, and in disorder hastened to their lines. Shouts and yells were soon heard on the 46th parade-ground. The officers, roused from their sleep, were quickly mounted and among their men, whom they found in open
mutiny. Brigadier Brind, in whose house Captain Chambers, the cantonment magistrate, and Captain Balmain of the 9th Cavalry, had passed the night for many weeks, keeping alternate watch, soon learned that the crisis had come. Captain Balmain, relieved of his guard by Captain Chambers, had just before gun-fire gone to his own house close by, and thrown himself on his bed to snatch a short sleep, when a faithful trooper rushed in in undress, and told him " the men were mounting," and "mischief would come." Rousing the Brigadier as he passed, he hastened down to his lines, but found it hopeless to attempt to restore order: the men were already mounted, and one troop had galloped off to force the jail; then ne galloped back to the Brigadier's, and urged him to mount and fly to the fort.t As if reluctant to leave his post even when all was over, the Brigadier delayed over some final arrangements; and that delay was fatal. On turning out of his compound gate, a body of troopers were seen bearing down along the road which led to the fort, pistol in hand; as they passed, all except three fired, but without effect: neither the Brigadier, nor any of the officers who were with him, were touched. The three troopers who had reserved their fire wheeled round sharp as they passed, and shot at the Brigadier from behind; a ball wounded him in the back; repeated attempts were made to cut him down as he rode on; and it was mainly through Captain Balmain, and the other officers who had rallied round him in his retreat, that he was able to reach the fort at all.
* An officer of the 46th Native Infantry, on galloping down to the lines, met his Pay Havildar, and asked him what the disturbance all meant; the Havildar replied that four troopers of the 9th Cavalry had just been through the lines, and said that the ckkuppa (printed letter or circular) had come, "and," added the Havildar, " what can we do J" Another officer, in his flight at the village of Tulwundee, was told by a villager that a King's Tnessenger had passed through the day before for Sealkote. One of the Sepoys who saved the life of Colonel Farquharson, and escorted him to the fort, declared that the names of the 35th Light Infantry, and 46th Native Infantry, were down in the King of Delhi's booh, as regiments that might be relied on, so long ago as last January 1 The chhuppa was doubtless a call on them to fulfil their pledge.
+ On that very day the Brigadier, with the view of showing implicit confidence in the 46th Native Infantry, had moved down 35,000 rupees from the Civil Treasury into their Quarter-Guard.
On the parade - ground of the 46th, the officers, warned * and entreated by the better disposed of the Sepoys, had galloped off in the opposite direction, the road to the fort being no longer open, and reached Goofranwalla; a few stray shots followed them as they passed the lines and one of the guards ; but they escaped untouched. Dr Graham, the superintending surgeon, a man whose kindliness of heart towards all classes should have been his safeguard, endeavoured to escape in his buggy across cantonments to the fort, accompanied by his daughter; but some troopers, apparently on the watch for him, cut him off, and shot him down in his carriage. His poor daughter was allowed to proceed unmolested, and escaped into a garden ■ here she was subsequently discovered by a trooper, who carried her off to the cavalry Quarter-Guard, where, together with Colonel and Mrs Lorn Campbell (the colonel commanding the cavalry), she wassheltered and protected during the day. Dr J. Graham of the medical depot was also attacked while driving in nis carriage towards the fort, and shot down; but Mrs Graham, and Mrs Gray the wife of Lieut. Gray, Adjutant of the Artillery Division, were suffered to proceed to the fort. Captain Bishop of the 46th Native Infantry, officiating as Brigade Major, was the only other victim in cantonments. Driving his wife and children to the fort, he had almost gained it when a trooper overtook him. Bishop, hoping to divert the ruffian's attention from his wife and children, and probably thinking he might also escape himself, sprang off the box, and plunged into the moat which surrounds the fort; the water, however, was too shallow to conceal him, and he was soon wounded and cut down. So near to the fort wall was the spot where he was killed, that Captain Balmain, who with the Brigadier and others had already reached it, was on the rampart, and saw the attack on poor Bishop. Seizing a musket, Cap
tain Balmain fired two or three shots at the trooper, but the distance was too great; the wretch was not to be intimidated; he did not leave his victim till life was extinct. Mrs Bishop saved herself by driving round to the fort gateway.
Without any defined plan for retreat having been arranged, in the event of a mutiny, it was generally understood that the fort t would be the rallying-point, as furnishing the nearest asylum; and here nearly all the residents of the station had flocked, with the exception, as already noticed, of the officers of the 46th Native Infantry. From the civil lines also, which lay to the south-west of cantonments, a mile off, the civilians, Mr Monckton, the Deputy - Commissioner, and Mr M'Mahon, his assistant, with their wives, had hastened to the fort. The intimation they had received from Jhelum on the previous day made them augur the worst from the first sounds of unusual commotion in the station; and they started off at once under an escort of the newlevies. With them the Chaplain (the Rev. W. Boyle) also escaped. Having gone out the evening before to the civil lines, he acted on a hint given to him, and spent the night there, and thus reached the fort among the earliest. Here, however, was perpetrated a murder which, for coldblooded atrocity on inoffensive and helpless victims, takes precedence of all the sanguinary acts of that day. The Rev. J. Hunter, a Presbyterian clergyman, had a short time before moved out of the cantonments into a vacant house in the civil lines, for greater safety in the event of any outbreak in the station. The day had scarcely dawned when tidings reached him that the Sepoys had risen: instantly placing his wife and child in a carriage, he started off for the fort. On his way it was necessary to pass near the jail: either the troopers had been already here, or the Civil Sowars were in the plot; for as he drove by, some of the Chup* "Jao, Sahib, Jao. rtmj oolka kai," (Go, sir, go—grief has come; or, we are come to grief), said a Havildar to the Adjutant Le Gallais. Lieut. Smith's horse's bridle was seized by a Sepoy, who led him off the parade-ground, and implored him to fly.
t This old building belongs to Rajah Tej Singh, the old Sikh general.
prasses rushed out and attacked him; he was first killed, and then his poor wife and babe.* One most remarkable escape of that day, by which several lives were preserved, deserves to be especially mentioned. Dr Butler and Lieut. Saunders of the 9th Cavalry, both living together in the house of the latter, had agreed that, in case of an outbreak, their carriages should be immediately ready, and their families conveyed to the fort; but they were no sooner apprised of their danger, than they found that all escape was cut off by mounted troopers, who were scouring the station in all directions. This house was soon the object of attack, but not before Dr Butler and Lieutenant Saunders, with their wives and families, had been enabled to conceal themselves in a small outhouse. Here, through the faithfulness of one of the servants, a chokedar (watchman), they were preserved; and though many parties of Sepoys and troopers came up to the very door of the outhouse, their place of concealment was never discovered. For more than twelve weary anxious hours on a July day was this little party of twelve persons, eight of them young children, shut up in that miniature black-hole. They could distinctly hear parties of the mutineers entering the compound, and rifling the house, and demolishing all property they could not carry away. The explosion of the regimental magazines added, if it were possible, to their alarm. However, as the day waned the tumult began to cease; and when it was nearly dark, finding all around still and quiet, they came out of their hiding-place and walked to the fort Here also others, who had been providentially preserved, were coming in — Colonel Farquharson and Captain Caulfield, of the 46th
Native Infantry, with the sergeantmajor and his wife, who had all been rescued by some of their own men, and concealed in their lines. The inmates of the Roman Catholic seminary had been left unmolested through the daring devotion and tact of the priest; the inmates, too, of the Artillery Hospital, the sick soldiers, and those left on guard,— who, having with great promptness congregated in the dead-nouse, and fortified themselves there, giving, ever and anon, as parties of the mutineers approached, proofs which they had no wish to challenge farther, that a worthy reception awaited them ;—all now came in, and among them Mrs M'Ansh (the wife of Dr M'Ansh of the Artillery, absent with the Column), who, at the commencement of the disturbance, had hastened with her children to the Artillery Hospital for protection. Regardingthe fate of the 46th officers great anxiety was entertained, as the night passed without their appearing. They, however, had effected their escape on the other side of the station, and, after a ride of nearly forty miles under a scorching sun, had arrived safely at Goofranwalla.+
After the bloodshed of the morning, the mutineers had spent the rest of the day in rifling the private bungalows and mess-houses, and carrying off all the property they could lay hands on. Very little that was of any value and at all portable escaped them; and wherever they bore any especial malice to the owner of a house, they committed the most wanton injury. The destruction of the kutcherry was complete — the liberated prisoners from the jail made this their special care. Tearing doors and windows off the hinges, and piling them, with all the tables and chairs, the books, papers, and 34
* The Resaldar (or Native Captain) of the Civil Sowars, and the Subahdar of the police, were a few days afterwards hanged for witnessing this atrocious murder without making an effort to save the inoffensive and unresisting victims, and for other negative proofs of disloyalty.
+ They experienced the kindest treatment from the villagers along the road, who fed them, and even offered them money. One of them, Mrs Le Gallais, the wife of the Adjutant of the 46th Native Infantry, was in very delicate health; and by the time she had reached a small village called Budhpore, had become so faint and ill from the extreme heat and the shaking of the buggy, that she could bear the motion no longer. "The villagers (says one of the party) rigged up an awning over a cKarpoy (native bed), and carried her across country to Uoofranwalla."
VOL. LXXXrV.—NO. DXIIL C
everything combustible, in the centre room, they set fire to the whole; and as "the sheeted smoke, with flashes of flame intermingled," rose up, there rose up, too, the yells and shouts of the infuriated convicts, revelling as they watched the destruction of this scene of their shame; and little remained but the bare charred walls to show where that handsome kutcherry had stood. Nor did the house of the Deputy - Commissioner fare much better: broken doors, windows, tables, chairs, <fcc.. strewed that once beautiful and well-tended garden. In the cantonment the demolition was chiefly the work of Goojurs* of the neighbourhood, who flocked in like vultures to the prey; but they were soon made to disgorge their plunder, their ringleaders were hanged, and heavy fines inflicted on all the suspected villages. Happily neither of the exquisite churches, for which Sealkote is so justly famed, was injured. The patrolling party from the fort, consisting of a few Sikh police and some of the new levies, were out early the next morning, and caught some wretches in the act of tearing up the benches in the larger church. They were seized, and quickly paid the penalty for their rashness; and the church was saved from further injury. The exquisite little chapel was not touched. Having secured all the property they could carry away, not forgetting the old signal-gun—an act which reflects as much credit on their forethought, as the use of it afterwards did on their artillery practice—the
mutineers started, about four o'clock in the afternoon, towards Hosheyarpore, carrying with them crowds of camp-followers and servants,+ expecting to be overtaken by a large body of their brethren from the 14th Native Infantry, who, they were led to believe, had escaped, and were moving down in force to join them. They only marched ten miles that day —a delay which, as will be seen, eventually sealed their fate at the Ravee.
When the mutineers left, the Goojurs poured in and pillaged till dark, and then all was quiet for the night; and that night, in all the wretchedness of that ruined dirty fort, many a one slept more soundly and fearlessly than they had slept for weeks "before. The mine had exploded, and they had escaped. Tothe poor Brigadier it was a night of intense suffering, and before daylight he had breathed his last. He retained his faculties nearly to the end; indeed, he had, with perfect self-possession, during the day given his orders for securing the fort, and making such arrangements as were possible. Throughout those six weeksof anxiety and danger, he had pursued, consistently and unswervingly, the one line of conduct which he believed to be alone possible to preserve quiet: he strove, by a seeming confidence in their loyalty, to win from the native troops a maintenance of order which he had no longer the means to enforce. He never lost his head, as so many did in less trying and perilous positions; he fell at his post; and in him his
* The Goojurs of the Punjab are said, in the "Punjab Report" of 1849-50, to be "more industrious and less predatory than their brethren of Hindostan." Those of the Sealkote district have at any rate forfeited this distinction.
t This was one of the peculiarities of the Sealkote outbreak. In almost all other stations domestic servants had been either faithful or at least neutral; but here they were clearly privy to the whole plot; and, with only a very few exceptions, every servant, whether Mussulman or Hindoo, proved false. In some cases, not even the claims of fifteen or twenty years' service with a family restrained them from now deserting their masters, or from being the first to help themselves in the general scramble. One instance (for the truth of which the writer has most unquestionable testimony) will suffice. In the service of Brigadier Brind was a bearer, an old and favourite servant On the night of the 8th, Captain Chambers, who always slept at the Brigadier's, carefully examined all the pistols, fee, as was his nightly custom; for no one thought of being night or day without a loaded pistol or revolver at his side. The Brigadier's pistol was laid by his bed, loaded, capped, and ready for use. But in the morning, when the need for it came, the caps had disappeared! and no one had had access to the Brigadier's sleeping-room but the old bearer! Indeed, the faithlessness of the servants was general.