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dual having the appearance or dress of a Christian, whether man, woman, or child-had been murdered! Such tidings might well appal the stoutest hearts in the strongest and least exposed stations of India; but on Lahore they fell with portentous import. This vast city, the political capital of the Punjab, peopled by hereditary soldiers-Sikh and Mohammedan; from the former of whom the spirit of the Singh Gooroo, and "the Baptism of the Sword," had not wholly passed away; while of the latter class-rising up, under British protection and favour, from the degradation and thraldom to which the Sikh rule had reduced them, and waiting only the opportunity to change their present state of seeming content and quiet into a more genial course of marauding and bloodshed,-this city, with its 90,000 inhabitants, could at a word give forth hundreds who would be only too ready to emulate the atrocities of the Meerut and Delhi monsters. Nor was it from the city alone that danger was to be apprehended. At the military cantonment of Mean-Meer, six miles off, were quartered four native regiments, three of infantry and one of cavalry, with comparatively but a small force of Europeans, consisting of the Queen's 81st, with two troops of horse-artillery and four reserve companies of foot-artillery. It was at this time unknown how far the native regiments in the Punjab might be tainted with the spirit of mutiny which had shown itself in those quartered in Bengal and the North-West Provinces.
In the absence of Sir John Lawrence, the Chief Commissioner, who was then at Rawul Pindee, the duty of meeting the threatened emergency devolved on the Judicial Commissioner, Mr Montgomery. Immediately on receipt of the telegraphic message (on the 12th of May), he assembled in Council his colleague Mr D. M'Leod, the Financial Commissioner, with Colonel Macpherson, the Military Secretary to the Chief Commissioner; Mr A. Roberts, Commissioner of the Lahore
Division ; Colonel R. Lawrence, Commandant of the Punjab Police; Major Ommaney, Chief Engineer of the Punjab, and his assistant, Captain Hutchinson of the Engineers. They all concurred in the opinion of Mr Montgomery, that prompt vigorous measures were necessary to preserve the peace of the city, and to prevent an emeute on the part of the Mean-Meer Sepoys. Accordingly, Mr Montgomery, accompanied by Colonel Macpherson, proceeded at once to Mean-Meer, to inform Brigadier Corbett of the telegraphic intelligence, and to urge on him the importance of prompt decisive action; and for such a course they found the Brigadier by no means indisposed. His plan, at once formed, was to deprive the native troops of their ammunition and gun-caps, and to throw additional Europeans into the Fort. As the day, however, advanced, intelligence was received that gave to the impending danger a more formidable character. It was discovered by an intelligent Sikh, a non-commissioned officer in the police corps, that a deep-laid conspiracy had been formed by the Mean - Meer native troops, involving the safety of the Lahore Fort and the lives of all the European residents in the cantonments, and the civil station of Anarkullee.
In order to make the character of this conspiracy intelligible, it is necessary to introduce a few remarks explanatory. The Fort, which is situated within the city walls, is ordinarily garrisoned by one company of the European regiment, one company of Foot Artillery, and a wing of one of the native regiments from Mean-Meer; the chief object of this force in the citadel being to keep a check on the city, and to guard the Government Treasury. During the former half of May, the 26th N.I. had furnished the wing on guard, which was in due course to be relieved on the 15th of the month by a wing of the 49th N.I. It was arranged by the conspirators, that while the wings of both regiments were in the Fort together, in the act of relief, amounting 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 gates, take possession of the citadel, the magazine, and the treasury; to overpower the small body of Europeans, some 80 men of H.M. 81st, and 70 of the artillery, not above 150 in all; and an empty hospital in the deserted lines at Anarkullee, close by, was to be set on fire as a signal to their comrades at MeanMeer that their plot had succeeded. The rise was then to become general in cantonments, the guns to be seized, the central jail forced, its 2000 prisoners liberated, and a promiscuous massacre of the Europeans to crown their triumph! Such was the nature of the conspiracy then partially disclosed, and subsequently discovered in its fuller details.
To what extent this well-planned scheme might have succeeded, God be thanked, it is not necessary now to conjecture. His mercy in permitting its timely discovery alone saved hundreds from the snare thus laid for them. For the seizure of the Fort and magazine, the co-operation of the budmashes (vagabonds) of the city, and the massacre of the great body of Christian residents in the unprotected civil stations of Anarkullee, would most probably have been effected; and the only hope for the force in cantonments lay in the possibility of the 81st Queen's and the artillery being able to intrench and fortify themselves in some part of the station, until the arrival of succours from without. Nor, as has been subsequently discovered, was this conspiracy confined to Lahore. It was as widespread as it was deep-laid. Ferozepore, Phillour, Jullundhur, Umritsur, were included, as it is now confidently believed. The 45th and 57th N.I. at Ferozepore were to effect the seizure of that magazine, with its munitions of war, second only in amount to those of Delhi itself; Phillour Fort, with its no inconsiderable magazine, and, what was of even more importance, a position on the banks of the Sutlej of such strategetical value as to entitle it fully to the description of it by Sir Charles Napier, that it was the key of the Punjab," were to be taken possession of by the 3d N.I. Thus was it planned that the morning of the 15th of May was to see the chief
British strongholds, from the Ravee to the Sutlej, in the hands of the mutineers, and the life of every Englishman at their mercy. But we have anticipated. The danger, even to the extent then discovered, was imminent, for on the issue of the struggle between order and mutiny at Lahore, it was felt that the peace of the whole Punjab probably depended; and only a few hours remained in which it would be possible to counteract the plot and avert the catastrophe. In this emergency the original qualified measures agreed on in the morning appeared to Brigadier Corbett to be wholly ineffectual; and in spite of the jealousy for the good name of their regiments, which, not unnaturally perhaps, led their respective commandants to doubt the truth of the rumoured conspiracy, or to repudiate for their own men the charge of complicity, the Brigadier resolved on the bold, almost desperate, and unprecedented step of disarming the whole of the native troops in the station. To arrange for this coup d'état with the strictest secresy, lest a whisper of the plan should betray and ruin all, was the anxious work of that afternoon.
It so happened that the gay world of Mean-Meer, in the enjoyment of a fancied security, had selected that evening (12th May) for a large ball, which was to be given by the Station to the officers of H.M. 81st regiment, in acknowledgment of their proverbial hospitality. The discovery of this conspiracy made some of the authorities suggest the postponement of the ball; but it was wisely overruled, as any such change might have led the Sepoys to infer the detection of their plot. So the ball took place; but it could scarcely be said of it, as of the far-famed ball at Brussels which preceded the battle of Waterloo, that
"All went merry as a marriage-bell;" for, not to mention an air of anxiety and gloom which the most devoted and lightest-hearted of the votaries of Terpsichore could not altogether shake off, the room itself betrayed signs of preparation,
"For in each corner
The eye on stranger objects fell; There arms were piled!"
and every officer knew where to find his weapon in case of an attack. The evening, however, passed over undisturbed, and dancing was kept up till two in the morning. The scene then changed, with short interval, from the ball-room to the paradeground!
Here the whole brigade, European and native, were, according to the orders of the previous day, assembled; avowedly to hear the general order read, disbanding a portion of the 34th N. I. at Barrackpore; but really to enact a drama which, for originality and boldness of design, is without precedent in the annals of Indian history. To witness it Anarkullee sent all her leading civilians, whose anxious faces betokened the momentous importance which was attached to its success. general order was duly read at the heads of the several native regiments, when, as if to form a part of the brigade manoeuvres of the day, the whole of the troops were countermarched, so as to face inwards, on one side the native regiments at quarter-column distance, and in front of them the 81st Queen's (only five companies), in line, with the guns along their rear. Then came the critical moment. Lieutenant Mocatta, adjutant of the 26th N. I., advanced and read an address, explaining to the Sepoys that the mutinous spirit which pervaded so many regiments down country had rendered it necessary to adopt measures-not so much for the peace of the country, which the British could maintain, as for the sake of preserving untarnished the names of regiments, whose colours told of so many glorious battle-fields; and that it had been therefore determined by the Brigadier to take from them the opportunity of ruining their own character, should designing malcontents attempt to involve them in mutiny and its ruinous consequences. The order was then given to 'pile arms." A slight hesitation and delay were perceptible among the 16th Grenadiers, to whom the order was first given; but-it having been prearranged that, while the
address was being read to the Sepoys, the 81st should form into subdivisions and fall back between the guns the 16th found themselves confronted, not by a thin line of European soldiers, but by twelve guns loaded with grape, and port-fires burning; and heard the clear voice of Colonel Renny ordering his men to load, followed by the ominous ring of each ramrod as it drove home its ball-cartridge. Conviction was carried to the heart of the waverers; they sullenly piled arms-as also did the 49th N. I., and the portion of the 26th L. I., while the 8th Cavalry unbuckled and dropped their sabres.
Thus were some 2500 native soldiers disarmed in the presence of scarcely 600 Europeans, and were marched off to their lines comparatively harmless!
But the safety of the Fort had also to be provided for. Major Spencer, who commanded the wing of the 26th L. I. in the Fort, had received private intimation that his wing would be relieved on the morning of the 13th instead of on the 15th, and a hint was given to the officers of the detachment, that, however reluctantly, their presence must be dispensed with at the ball. By daylight on the following morning, three companies of the 81st under Colonel Smith entered the Fort, to the utter dismay of the Sepoys, who were at once ordered to lay down their arms-an order which they obeyed without demur, conscience-stricken probably, and awed at the suspicion that their murderous scheme was detected. No time was lost in marching them off to their own lines in Mean-Meer; and there awaited them the tidings of a similar fate having involved their crestfallen comrades.
The immediate danger was thus averted; but the future had also to be provided for. Strong pickets of Europeans were posted in different parts of the station; one in the 81st lines, a second on the Artillery parade-ground, and a third, the strongest of all, in an open space in the centre of cantonments (where the Brigadier and his Staff slept
The 16th Grenadiers especially. They were among General Knott's "noble Sepoys" at Candahar and Ghuznee.
every night). The ladies and children were accommodated with quarters in the barracks, where, in the event of any rise, they might be in greater security; and the officers of the several regiments were required to sleep in particular houses in their respective lines, which admitted of more ready defence against attack.
Nor were these precautionary measures confined to Lahore. Though the danger which, as has been since discovered, threatened the posts and magazines of Ferozepore, Umritsur, and Phillour, was not then known, the value of these posts, and the importance of strengthening them, were at once apparent; and therefore measures were at once adopted for their safety. An express messenger was despatched to Brigadier Innes at Ferozepore, to put him on his guard; and to Umritsur, or rather the adjacent fort of Govindgurh, a company of H.M. 81st foot, under Lieutenant Chichester, was posted off in ekkas;* while a company of foot - artillery under Lieutenant Hildebrand was sent to occupy the fort at Phillour.
Such were the military arrangements planned during the afternoon of the 12th of May, and carried into effect by daylight on the following morning.
Most providential was it that the Lahore Brigade was at this crisis under the command of such an officer as Colonel Stuart Corbett. Sevenand-thirty years of active life in India had given him such an insight into the native character as to enable him to estimate rightly the impending danger, without having robbed him of that vigour of body and energy of mind which were needed to cope with such a difficulty. Happy, too, was he in possessing that rarest of gifts in India, a courage, not so much to face an enemy in the field, as to brave the censure of some secretariat pen twelve hundred miles off-a contempt for that bugbear of so many Indian officials, the fear of responsibility; for thus only was Brigadier Corbett enabled to meet the emergency and to rise with the crisis. Happily also he had, in the chief civil authority at hand, one every way fitted to counsel and prepared to share the conse
quences of prompt, vigorous measures. In Mr Montgomery he found no "timorous counsels," none of that perplexing interference for which some POLITICALS have obtained an unenviable notoriety at the pen of many a gallant soldier, but one ready to play his part in that struggle as became an Englishman and a Christian.
Nor was it only in concurrence with Brigadier Corbett that Mr Montgomery thus distinguished himself. Leaving the details of the great military movements to the Brigadier, his attention was directed to the dangers which might threaten the peace of the district around. Acting for, and in the absence of, the Chief Commissioner, he at once advised the removal of all treasure from the smaller civil stations to places of greater security; urging its being immediately taken out of the charge of the Hindustance guards, and escorted by Punjabee police. He also suggested the stoppage of all Sepoys' letters passing through the post-offices; and to these and other similar instructions he added, in a circular to all district officers, the following advice: "Whilst acting vigorously, and being alive to the great importance of this crisis, I would earnestly suggest calmness and quietness: there should be no signs of alarm or excitement; but be prepared to act, and have the best information from every source at your disposal," advice which his own example so admirably enforced, eliciting from the Chief Commissioner, in an official form, the testimony that Mr Montgomery, "neglecting no precaution, admits of no alarm, and inspires all with confidence and zeal."
Scarcely less important than the Fort at Lahore was that of Govindgurh at Umritsur. Its real value does not consist in its occupying any commanding position in a military point of view, or in containing any arsenal, like Ferozepore and Phillour; nor in its strength of construction, though that has obtained for it a European reputation, so much as in its national religious character. The possession of it, like the possession of the famed Koh-i
Ekkas are light native carts drawn by ponies.
noor, carried with_it_the_talismanic pledge of power. If this Fort, sacred from its proximity to their holy city, named after their warrior Gooroo (Govind Sing), and rich in traditions and relics of their race and faith, had once been wrested from our hands, the prestige of the English name would have been imperilled in the eyes of the whole Sikh people; our Ikbal (good fortune) would have been doubted; and, in the belief that our rule was really passing away, "the Khalsa " "* might have risen to make common cause with "the Poorbeah," whether hated Mohammedan or despised Hindoo, in expelling a common enemy who had humbled them all, but whom Heaven itself now seemed to be deserting. All this was involved in the safety of Govindgurh.
The force in the Fort and the adjacent cantonment was but small. One company of European artillery, under Captain Macleod, occupied the Fort, the guards being supplied by a detachment of the 59th N. I. from the station, where also was a company of foot-artillery (native) and a light field-battery. It has been mentioned already that the Lahore authorities included the strengthening of Govindgurh in the measures so promptly decided upon on the memorable 12th of May. The company of H. M. 81st, despatched by the Brigadier for that purpose in ekkas under Lieutenant Chichester, entered the Fort before daylight on the morning of the 14th, having started from Lahore in the evening, after the disarming of the native troops, and accomplishing the intervening thirty miles in a single night. The company of European artillery, which had been destined for Phillour, was detained by the Umritsur authorities for the greater security of Govindghur, while Captain Waddy's battery was moved from cantonments within the Fort walls. The 59th Regiment N. I. has perhaps less than any other regiment in the Punjab, excepting the noble 21st N. I. at Peshawur, fallen under suspicion; and their conduct then and subsequently, as we shall have occasion to show,
proves that, however much they might have been tampered with by emissaries of sedition in the disguise of faqueers, &c. the spirit of disaffection had spread but little in their ranks. The cartridge grievance having been explained to them by their officers, and its falseness exposed before their eyes by a committee of their own men being appointed to examine and test the suspected cartridges, their fears and doubts were, as they said, wholly removed, and their conduct generally was decorous and quiet. On the night of the 14th there was an alarm that the disarmed Sepoys at Lahore had risen, and were marching down on Umritsur. A small force, consisting of a detachment of the 59th N. I., with some civil sowars (troopers) and police, was sent out on the Lahore road to oppose them, and the ladies and children retired for the night into the Fort. The alarm, however, proved to be false, and the station resumed its usual quiet.
But the city of Umritsur, with its vast population, continued, and not without cause, to be for some time an object of great anxiety. Here the Sikhs greatly preponderated; and the Mohammedans, though forming a powerful body, could, without much difficulty, be kept under by their more numerous rivals. In such a population the embers of religious animosity were continually smouldering; and the true policy at such a crisis was to prevent their being entirely extinguished, and, at the same time, to guard against their bursting out into open flame. In their jealous rivalry lay our security. To keep the two classes thus in mutual check- to counterbalance race by race, and creed by creedwas the great aim of the DeputyCommissioner, Mr F. Cooper, on whom this duty devolved. His tact and energy commanded success. His great personal influence and unremitting exertions secured the cooperation of the leaders of both classes, without shaking the confidence of either; and thus the peace of the city of Umritsur was never disturbed.
* The Khalsa literally means the elect or chosen, a title of honour assumed by the Sikhs when they conquered the Punjab.