Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Relief of Lucknow, in Film

This is a short silent film, courtesy of Colonial Film, produced by the Edison Company, in 1912, about the Relief of Lucknow. The film was first shown in 1912 and four veterans of the siege were present at the viewing. The accompanying article from the Penny Illustrated Paper notes that the veterans were "roused by the correctness of the details.."

Relief of Lucknow

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Original Defenders of the Garrison

There were, according to Edward Hilton 2,994 people at the start of the siege -

130 British and Native Officers
740 British Troops
700 Native Troops
150 Civilian Volunteers
237 Women
260 Children
50 Boys of La Martinere
27 non-combatant Europeans
700 non-combatant Natives *

The siege was not altogether an English one and to think thus is completely untrue and terribly unjust. As the English on the whole did not even list the names of their own  foot soldiers so they did not mention the brave Indians who stayed loyal to them during the siege. A look at some of the memorials gives a better and a slightly  more honest picture:

Erected in memory of the devoted gallantry and fidelity of the Native Officers and Sepoys of the Hon'ble Company's 13th Bengal Native Infantry (Garud-ka- Fultan), who fell during the defence of Lucknow. This monument is erected by the surviving European officers of the Regiment in the Baillie Guard Post, which was held by the regiment throughout the defence. Subadar Doondayal Pandey, Subadar Ram Pershad and Subadar Sheo Charan Singh, Jamadar Bhawani Bux Chowbe, Kalka Tewari, 9 Havildars, 8 Naiks, 5 Drummers, 24 Sepoys.

(As a reward every member of the three faithful regiments (13th, 48th and 71st) were formed into a new regiment — the present 16th Rajputs (the Lucknow Regiment). In the end 1 Subadar Major received the 1st class, 11 Bubadars the 2nd class of the Order of Merit. 16 Havildars were promoted to Jamadars of whom 2 also got the 2nd Class of the Order. 23 Naiks were promoted to Havildars, and 55 sepoys to Naiks; drummers and other followers received three months' pay. One Naik was promoted to Subadar with the 2nd Class of the Order, and 3 Naiks and 3 Sepoys to Jamadars in the Cawnpore Levy.)


To the memory of the Native Officers and Sepoys of the 13th Native Infantry, 41st Native Infantry, 48th Native Infantry, 71st Native Infantry, the Oudh Irregular Force, Native Pensioners, New Native Levies, Artillery, and Lucknow Magazine who died near this spot, nobly performing their duty, this column is erected by Lord Northbrook, Viceroy and Governor-General of India, 1875.

The 200 men of the 33rd Native Infantry remained loyal through out the siege, performing their duty with marked excellence at the exposed defences of the Baily Guard. As of the 1st of July, there were 12 native officers, 28 non-commissioned officers, 13 drummers and 136 rank and file.

The figures on the 1st July 1857 were as follows, and apply to the 13th Native Infantry as to the rest of the Indian soldiers:
41st Native Infantry.— 16 Drummers. 
48th Native Infantry. — 5 Native Officers, 18 Havildars, 24 -Drummers, 26 rank and file. 
71st Native Infantry. — 12 Native Officers, 14 Havildars, 11 Drummers, 7 rank and file. 
Oudh Irregular Force.— 7 Native Officers, 17 Havildars, 79 rank and file. 
Native pensioners. — 6 Native Officers, 3 Drummers, 109 rank and file. 
New Native Levies.3 Native Officers, 1 Havildar, 44 rank and file. 

Artillery. — 5 Native Officers, 18 Havildars, 6 Drummers, 146 rank and file. 
Lucknow Magazine. — 4 Havildars, 10 rank and file. 
7th Light Cavalry. — 4 Native Officers, 2 Havildars, 4 rank and file

Total, with the 13th Native Infantry.— 54 Native Officers, 102 Havildars, 73 Drummers, 618 rank and file, or 847 out of a total force of 1,698.

“To the Memory of
The Native Officers and Sepoys
Of the
13th Native Infantry, 41st Native Infantry
48th Native Infantry, 71st Native Infantry
The Oude Irregular Force,
Native Pensioners, New Native Levies
Artillery and Lucknow Magazine
Who died near this spot
Nobly performing their duty.”

 In the following memorandum, (Appendix 3, Gubbins) Martin Gubbins charts the original strength of the Lucknow Garrison, and includes a total of "its reduction by Deaths, Desertations, etc., during the Siege."

Strength of the Garrison on the 1st of July:                      
927 Europeans
765 Natives
Total- 1692
Reduction during the Siege:
305 Europeans
133 Natives
230 Deserted
Remaining Strength on the 29th of September, 1st Relief including sick and wounded:
577 Europeans
402 Natives
Total -979

Number of Officers killed and died in the Garrison from the 29th of June to the final relief by Colin Campbell:
41 Military
2 Civilian
1 Assistant Chaplain
5 Warren
Total -49

In Julia Inglis’ book, the following reckoning is given:


Artillery:                       80
H.M.’s 32nd:                600
H.M.’s 84th:                  50


Sikh Cavalry:              60
7th Light Cavalry          9
13th Native Infantry   250
48th Native Infantry     43
71st Native Infantry    117
                                               479   =     1209
There is little mention of "other" natives, that is, the servants, ayahs, water carriers and laborers who remained in the entrenchments during the siege, except for this rather sad accounting from Julia Inglis:

“Double this number of natives had remained true to their salt, and never mutinied; but it was not deemed advisable to keep them all, as they out numbered the European portion of the garrison.”

If the above reckoning is correct, then there are close to a 1000 people who remain nameless and I tend to trust the numbers of Hilton as being the most accurate. These discrepancies are probably the greatest tragedy of the siege - the stories of the uncounted can never be told and they remain, like the residency, ghosts of a dead age. I cannot do them justice in this work, nor is it possible to resurrect their tales, however, I hope that the visitors to the Residency today, will keep them in mind and spare a thought for all the sacrifices that did not make it into the pages of any book.

The numbers above bear this out. By far not all the Anglo Indian families have been listed and very possibly many ordinary soldiers’ families are missing too.  I recently came across Maggie McDonnough, the 12 year old daughter of an English sergeant of the 7st N.I. - Maggie died during the siege of a bullet wound to the head - her death is described in the Polehampton memoir but Maggie herself and her father do not appear on any of the roll calls which list the names of the original members of the Lucknow Garrison. Her mother is mentioned as Mrs. McDonnough only. Why Maggie was left out is a mystery. 

Mrs. Harris mentions a few servants by name and that only in passing – there is Chunia, a Madrasi her husband employed during the siege to help in the household chores,  “Scott” a wet nurse, and although she is described as a “copper coloured individual” this does not help in defining her in any detail (a soldier’s wife perhaps)  and Ramsay who Mrs. Harris writes towards the end of her journal  as being  “Mrs. D’s African servant”. As Ramsay had attended both Mr. Polehampton and Charlie Dashwood during their final illnesses, he was present for the entire siege.  Ramsay makes a further appearance in Mr. Polehampton's journal (published after his death by his brothers), as Thomas Ramsay, "an African-Christian born at Boston" who had a good knowledge of English. Unfortunately, the reverend convinced himself the man was a spy as he had been late in attending his duties and came up with odd excuses for his tardiness. The real origins of Thomas Ramsay are unknown. There has been some talk on one forum that he was an American. The Polehamptons had two other men in their service, one is only called the Baboo and the other is Peter, "the native Christian Church Chuprassi". Mr. Gubbins had in his service an English maid named Chivers who is only mentioned briefly in his book. 

As Mrs. Inglis writes:
"The servants who remained with us were our khansama, who acted as cook, Carruk and Quilbert, who took care of the boys, my ayah and her son, John's khidmadgar and four punkah coolies. Mrs. Case also had several servants so we were well off. The cook and his wife were the only ones who ran away, the others were outside the Residency when the siege commenced. Our bearer, an excellent servant, went out to try and bring in his wife, and could not get back again. Mrs. Case's ayah was at her house ill. Our syces (grooms) also remained faithful." Her husband's "soldier servant" Vokins, died during the siege following the amputation of his leg.

In some cases, though these omissions had less to do with an inability to count and more with prejudices of race and rank which were common at the time.  It can be taken for granted that the original lists deal almost exclusively with Europeans, and to add to that, Ladies and their Children, meaning the families of officers and persons of higher status. The rather naive anecdote by Mrs. Harris in her journal entry for June 19th, gives a good idea of what status and rank meant:

“I went yesterday evening with James to the Begum’s house to see the poor women who came in from Seetapore, and gave them a few things of mine which I thought would be useful as they had lost all their own clothes…They were very cheerful and seemed quite to have got over their troubles. It is wonderful how little that class of people seem to feel things that would almost kill a lady.”

Rees makes a differentiation and lists European Women and their Children (Mrs. Harris’ “that class of people”) so at least in his list of the garrison we can find some Eurasian names and the families of the uncovenanted services.

An example of this is Mrs. Allnutt – in the list of Rees, she is mentioned as having 4 children and having survived the siege. However, in Wilson’s list she only has one child and the child is dead. By the time we get to the Hilton s cemetery guide, Mrs. Allnutt and one child are dead.  Although there is plenty of written material available, there is simply not enough to add meat to the bones, so to speak. Even worse is Mrs. Beale. She was the wife of  Mr. Beale, noted in Inglis as an "overseer of roads", he was shot on July 11th wounded in the back from a a rifle shot and died a week later.  According to Wilson, there is a Mrs. Beale  with no children. However, Julia Inglis refers to a Mrs. Beale, as being the woman who had appealled to her for milk for her baby. (Inglis, 14th August). In Hilton's 2nd Edition Tourist Guide to Lucknow and the Residency, Mrs. Beale is listed as having 2 children and the whole Beale family is dead. How many children were there?

Many infants born during the siege are not recorded on the lists mainly because their birth and death followed one another so quickly they simply did not make it to the final count. This is where the journals prove to be infinitely useful – being written by women who were preoccupied with the day to day grind of living, some babies do get at least a mention.  One of these sad tales is of the Clarke family:

Dying of smallpox, Mrs. Elizabeth Clarke was one of the refugees of Gondah. Her husband who had been the assistant commissioner of the district was killed and she arrived at the residency eight months pregnant and carrying her 21 month old son Matthew Edgar, in her arms. Combined with the grief of her husband’s death and her oncoming confinement Mrs. Clarke had very few reserves to draw upon.  During her illness she became delirious, alternately calling on her servants to bring her dhoolie, then requesting her friend, Mrs. Bartrum to help her pack as she “was going on a long journey” and reciting random Bible verses. After three days, she died. Unable to name her baby who was born two days before her death, it was named Elizabeth by Reverend Harris and duly baptized. The baby died, only 5 days old. Her son died soon after.

 I have made an effort to collect all the names I could find in regard to the original garrison at Lucknow, present during the siege. I did this really for myself as I needed to see the people whose history I have chosen to write about. The list is not complete as I have only come up with 660 entries, give or take a few, but at least the garrison has a face. It is difficult to remember people as being flesh and blood when they died so long ago - but give them a name, an event and slowly they begin to take form. 

Edward Hilton

The grave of Mr. William Marshall, Opium Contractor, and his mother-in-law, Anne Sanson.

The Allnutt family 
The grave of the Reverend Polehampton

Neill and the 1st Madras Fusiliers

The grave of Charles Robert John Morgan

*I use the word Native, as a direct transcription and it should be read in context of the times and ist not intended in any possible way as a slur. This will always be a point of contention between students of colonialism and our modern brethren - political correctness was not a problem for Victorian authors, simply because it had not been invented to our modern standards at that time - I choose to use the words of the original authors, after all, these are their journals and a memory of their times, not mine.

The Battle of Chinhat and the Beginning of the Siege

The Battle of Chinhat was a much miscalculated effort by the British to show military might. Acting on intelligence received through native spies that a small force of insurgents was approaching Lucknow and it would be a quick way for the British to score a quick victory, Sir Henry Lawrence bowed to the pressure exerted upon him by his advisers and ordered three companies of the 32nd Regiment of Foot, several companies of the 13th NI , some detachments of other regiments, a small force of Sikh and European volunteer cavalry, as well as Bengal and Native Artillery to proceed along the Faizabad road to intercept, what he had been led to believe was a force no more than several hundred strong.

As it turned out, Lawrence (and his advisers for that matter) had been sadly deceived.  The insurgents outnumbered the British by approximately 6’000 to 600 – they fired on the British as they approached Ismaelganj close to the village of Chinhat- holding strong positions behind stone walls and in the village they soon inflicted heavy casualties on the British forces, especially on the 32nd Foot. The 13th NI attempted to attack to the right of village but the rebels were well entrenched and their leadership flawless. These insurgents were not a mindless rabble – consisting of retainers of local landowners and men of the East India Company Army they were led by Barkat Ahmad, a mutineer officer of the Company’s army – they were not only British trained, but to some extent “British” led. The British on the other hand were exhausted before the battle had begun – the merciless June heat and the fact that the soldiers had been sent out into the field without food or adequate drink, many soldiers died of heat stroke before a shot was fired and precious more were to die in the retreat from the same cause. It quickly turned into a rout for the British and was one of the few victories the mutineers ever obtained against them throughout the Mutiny.

Many of Lawrence’s soldiers, mainly the Indian artillerymen, switched sides during the battle, and the Sikh cavalrymen fled not from disloyalty but from a lack of decisive leadership. The British did the next best thing – they attempted to retreat. On their way back to Lucknow towards a bridge over the Kukrai stream, the rebel cavalry outflanked them, threatening to cut off their only route of escape. The 36 volunteer cavalrymen, most of them civilians, however, threw themselves against the rebels, causing a momentary confusion in their ranks and much of the British force was able to retreat over the bridge.  Lawrence, defeated as he was at Chinhat, now tried to turn the retreat at least into a victory – he ordered a battery of European artillery to occupy the bridgehead - a ruse - which paid off. The artillery had no ammunition left but their presence was enough to dissuade the rebels. To further break the momentum of the rebel pursuit, Lawrence ordered one company of the 32nd (who had not been at Chinhat, and were therefore, not exhausted) to hold the last bridge before Lucknow over the Gomti River. Their success and their orderly retreat, helped save many lives on what was otherwise an ill-fated day.

Besides the heavy loss of life incurred, the singular defeat at Chinhat proved to the rebels that the British were neither invincible nor as well prepared as they had been led to believe.  Following the battle, the rebels opened fire on the Residency. From the 30th of June 1857 until the 24th September (when the first relief force was able to break through) the British were on their own. The disaster haunted Sir Henry until his death and he never came to terms with the terrible losses. He placed the blame squarely upon himself, though it should have been equally carried by his rash advisers. 

From 11 a.m. on the 30th of June, the siege of the residency began.