Imatges de pàgina

numbers of them attain the rank of commissioned officers. It is probably owing to the peculiar composition, and to the local situation of the territories in which they are employed, that the Sepoys of Bombay have at all periods been found ready to einbark on foreign service. They are, in fact, familiar to the sea, and only a small proportion of them are incommoded in a voyage by those privations to which others are subject from prejudices of cast. But this is only one of the merits of the Bombay native soldier : he is patient, faithful, and brave, and attached in a remarkable degree to his European officers. There cannot be a class of men more cheerful under privation and difficulties; and though desertion is very frequent among the recruits of this army, who, from the local position of Bombay, can, on the first feeling of disgust at discipline, always, in a few hours, escape to the Mahratta territories, where they are safe from pursuit, there are no men, after they become soldiers, more attached to their colours. We question, indeed, if any army can produce more extraordinary examples of attachment to the government it served and to its officers than that of Bombay.

Towards the close of the war with Tippoo, in 1782, the whole of the force under General Mathews were made prisoners. The sultan, sensible of the advantages he might derive from the accession of a body of well-disciplined men, made every offer that he thought could tempt the English Sepoys into his service, but in vain. He ordered them to work upon his fortifications, particularly Chitteldroog, which was very unhealthy, upon a sear (two pounds) of ruggy, (a small grain like mustard seed,) and a pice(about a halfpenny) per day. On this pittance they were rigidly kept at hard labour through the day, and in close confinement at night, subject to the continued insults of their guards; but neither insults, oppression, nor sickness, could subdue their fidelity; and at the peace of 1789, fifteen hundredt of the natives of India, who had been made prisoners near the mountains of the coast of Malabar, marched a distance of five hundred miles to Madras, to embark on a voyage of six or eight weeks to rejoin the army to which they belonged at Bombay. During the march from Mysore, the guards of the sultan carefully separated those men, whenever they encamped by a tank (a large reservoir) or some other supposed insurmountable obstacle, from the European prisoners, among whom

We write from a memoraudum of an officer of rank and experience in the Bombay army; he observes,' the Jews are clean, obedient, and good soldiers; make excellent non-commissioned and commissioned officers until they arrive at an advanced age, when they often fall off and turn drunkards.'

† A considerable number of the Sepoys taken with General Mathews had, at the hazard of their lives, made their escape from the sultan and reached Bombay through The Mabratta territories. VOL. XVIII. NO. XXXVI.



were their officers. Not a night passed (we write from a paper of an officer of distinction, who was a witness of what he sta ies) that some of the Sepoys did not elude the vigilance of their guards by swimming across the tank, or by passing the sentries, that they might see their officers, to whom they brought such small sums as they had saved from their pittance, begging they would condescend to accept the little all they had to give. We can live upou any thing, (they used to say,) but you require mutton and beef.

To the service in Egypt, in 1800, the Bombay troops proceeded with the same alacrity as to every other, and neither the new disorders (to them) of the ophthalmia or plague, from both of which they suffered, abated in the least degree their ardor. It happened that this force and that from Bengal were too late to share in the fame which our arms acquired in Egypt; but we can hardly contemplate an event in any history more calculated to inspire reflection on the character of that transcendant power which our country had attained, than the meeting of her European and ludian armies ou the shores of the Mediterranean.

During the progress of the war with France, subsequent to 1803, several parties of the marine battalions of Bombay Sepoys were captured on board of the Company's cruizers, and carried to the Isle of France, where they were treated in a manner that reHects no credit upon the local government of that island, which probably expected that the hardships they endured would make them give way to the temptations continually held out, and induce them to take service; but in this they were disappointed: not one of these men could be persuaded to enter into the employment of the enemies of Great Britain, and when the Isle of France was captured, they met with that notice which they had so well merited. The government of Bombay granted to every individual who survived bis captivity a silver piedal, as a memorial of the sense which it entertained of his proved fidelity and attachment.

From the documents in our possession many examples of individual heroism in the Bombay Sepoy might be given, but we shall content ourselves with two, which will shew in a very strong point of view the nature of their attachment to their European officers.

Four years ago, when Major Hull, the commanding officer of a battalion on the Bombay establishment, was proceeding along the banks of a ravine, with eight or ten men of his corps, to search for some lions which had been seen near the cantominent of Kaira in Guzerat, a royal tiger suddenly sprang upon him. The ground gave way, and the tiger and Major Hull rolled together to the bottom of the ravine. Though this fall prevented the latter from being killed by the first assault, still his fate seemed certain ; and


those who know, from having witnessed it, the terror which the attack of this fierce aniinal inspires, can alone appreciate the character of that feeling which led every Sepoy who was withi him to rush at once to his succour. The tiger fell under their bayonets, though not before it had wounded two of the assailants most desperately; one having lost his leg, and the other being so lacerated as to be rendered unfit for future service as a soldier. These wounds, however, were deemed trivial by those who sustained them, wben they saw that the officer whom they loved had escaped unhurt from his perilous situation.

The second example of this strong feeling of duty is still more remarkable, as it was not merely encountering danger, but a devotion to certain death. We take our account of the transaction from a document* in which it was recorded at the period of its occurrence.

In 1797, Captain Packenham, in His Majesty's ship Resistance, accompanied by some sınall vessels of war belonging to the Company, took possession of Copong, the chief Dutch settlement ou the eastern İsle of Timor. Lieutenant Frost, of the Bombay marine, commander of the Intrepid cruizer, who was to be appointed governor of Copong, had taken a house on shore, where he expected Captain Packenham to meet the Dutch governor and make arrangements for the future administration of the place. The Malays had formed a plan by which it was settled that the moment Captain Packenham landed to attend this meeting, they were to rise and murder all the Englishmen on shore. Fortunately something occurred to induce Captain Packenham to defer bis visit; but he sent his boat, and its reaching the beach was the signal for the commencement of the massacre. Nearly twenty persons were slain. A large party had rushed to Lieutenant Frost's house. The head of his surgeon had been struck off, and his own destruction seemed inevitable, when two Sepoys of the Bombay marine battalion, whom he had landed from his vessel, exclaimed to him, 'Save yourself by flight, we will fight and die,' at the same time opposing themselves to the fury of the assailants and giving their commander time to escape to a boat. The Sepoys, after a resistance as protracted as they could render it, were slain, and their heads exposed on pikes explained their fate to their lamenting companions on board the lutrepid. Captain Packenham took prompt and ample vengeance of this treachery; be opened a heavy fire upon the place, under which he landed an efficient force, which defeated the Malays, who fled after losing two hundred men.

The length into wbich we have been led in cur account of the native armies of Madras and Bombay must, in some degree, limit

. Madras papers, 27th September, 1797.
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our observations on that of Bengal; but that is of less consequence, as those who desire to have complete information on this part of the subject can have recourse to the work before us. We shall, therefore, not dwell on details connected with the progress of this army, from a few companies who landed with Lord Clive in 1736, to its present number, which is upwards of sixty thousand. effective vative soldiers, commanded by about tifteen hundred Europeau officers; but content ourselves with noticing those facts which appear best calculated to illustrate the disposition and character of the materials of which it is composed.

The narrative of Captain Williams, though not perhaps altogether calculated to please the fastidious reader, is throughout simple and intelligible: and the authenticity of his facts is confirmed by the manner in which they are related. His plan evidently was to give the bistory of each corps from the period in which it was raised till its dissolution, or till it was formed into a regiment of the present establishment, but having been an actor in many of the scenes he describes, he is insensibly led into digressions, which, though sometimes tedious, the reader will generally pardon, from the curious and interesting matter they contain.

The first battalions raised in Bengal were ten companies of 100 men each, commanded by a captain with one lieutenant, one ensign, and one or two serjeants. Each company had a standard of the same ground as the facings, with a different device, (suited to its subadar, or native captain,) of a sabre, a crescent, or a dagger. The Company's colours, with the Union in one corner, were carried by the grenadiers. The first battalions were known by the name of the captain, by whom they were commanded, and though, in 1764, nineteen corps received a numerical rank correspondmg with the actual rank of their commandants at that period, this did not prevent them from continuing to be known under their former appellation, or from assuming the name of a favourite leader; and it is under these names (which Captain Williams has faithfully pre served) that he gives the history of some of the most distinguished corps in the service. He commences with an account of the 15th battalion, which he informs us was raised at Calcutta in 1757, and called the Mathews, from the name of its first commander. This corps was with Colonel Ford, in 1759, when that able officer, with three hundred and forty-sis Europeans and fourteen hundred Sepoys, besieged and took by storm the strong fortress of Masulipatam, making prisoners a French garrison, who, both in Europeans and natives, were nearly double bis numbers. In this

* This is independent of the officers of arullery and engineers, and of invalid corps. In 1760, the whole of the European officers in the service of the Company in Bengal amouuted to cigluteen captaiin, twenty-six lieutenants, and Giftcen ensigns.

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daring and arduous enterprize we are told by the historian of India that the Sepoys (who lost in killed and wounded on the storm two hundred men) behaved with equal gallantry as the Europeans both in the real and false attacks.'* In 1763, in the wars with the vizier of Oude, the Mathew's,' which was with the force under the command of Major Adams, is stated, when the Company's European regiment was broken by cavalry, to have pobly supported His Majesty's 84th regiment, whose courage restored the action. Major Adams died shortly afterwards, and a general mutiny of the whole force took place, in wbich the Sepoys at tirst joined, but were soon after reclaimed to their duty. Captain Williams at this part enters into a long digression respecting the events of the period. He gives an account of the battle of Buxar, which was fought in 1764, and in which all the native corps appear to have behaved well, though the action was chiefly gained by the courage and discipline of the European part of tlie force.

In 1782, the Mathews was one of three Bengal corps tinied, under an apprehension of being embarked for foreign service; and though the conduct of these corpst was remarkable for the total absence of that spirit of general insubordination and disposition to outrage by which mutinies of soldiery are usually marked, they were in the ensuing year broken, and drafted into some other battalions. • Thus fell the Mathews;' (says Captain Williams;)' a corps more highly spoken of during the twenty-six years it existed, than any

battalion in the service; and at this day, (he adds,) if you meet any of the old fellows who once belonged to it, and ask them what corps they came from, they will erect their heads and say, Mathews ka pultan,” or Mathews' battalion.'

Orme's History of India, vol. iii. p. 489. + We cannot refrain from giving the following account of this mutiny, which is written by an officer who witnessed it. It is very characteristical of the Bengal Sepoys.

The mutiny, (this officer observes,) excepting a general spirit of murmur and discontent, was confined to the single instance of refusing the service, and whilst in that state preventing the march of two companies which were ordered to protect stores, &c. preparing for the expedition. The men were guilty of no violence of any description, and treated their officers with the usual respect. The discipline of the corps was carried on as usual; and notwithstanding some of the native officers, and men who had acted the most conspicuous part, were confined in the quarter-guards of their respective regiments, 110 attempt was made to release them. After a lapse of several weeks, a geueral courtmartial was held, and two subadars, and one or two Sepoys, were sentenced to death by being blown away from the mouth of cannon. The sentence was carried into execution in the presence of those troops which had mutinied, excepting one other regiment, which was at the station, without the smallest opposition, or even murmur; and the troops were marched round the spot of execution amidst the mangled remains of their fellow. soldiers, without any other apparent feeling than the horror which such a scene was calculated to excite, and pity for their fate.'

The intended service was given up, and the regiments which had mutinied were pardoned in General Orders; but on the return to the Bengal provinces of General Goddard's detachment, the officers and men of the regimeuts which had mutinied were drafted into those old battalions. с с 3


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