Imatges de pÓgina

must be familiar to most of our readers. Our purpose in mentioning it is limited to the object of shewing the conduct of the Bengal sepoys under one of the severest trials of fidelity to which they were ever exposed.

The numerous followers of the rajah had risen upon two companies of sepoys appointed to guard the house in which he was placed under restraint, and killed and wounded the whole of them. The rashness of an European officer had led another party to slaughter in the streets of Ramnagur. Mr. Hastings, who was at Benares when these events occurred, had only a few companies of sepoys to guard his person, and even these he had no money to support. He summoned corps from different quarters to his aid: but when we reflect on the impression which the tirst success of Cheyt Singh had made, and consider that by far the greatest proportion of the troops with whom Mr. Hastings had overcome the dangers with which he was surrounded, were men of the same tribe and country as those against whom they were to act; and that the chief who was declared a rebel had long been considered by many of them as their legitimate prince, we must respect the mind that remained tirm and unmoved at so alarmning a crisis. The knowledge Mr. Hastings had of the sepoys, led him to place implicit trust in them on this trying occasion, and his confidence was well rewarded. Their habits of discipline and their attachment to their officers and the service, proved superior to the ties of cast and of kindred. Not an instance of defection occurred, and the public interests were preserved and restored by their zeal and valour.

Before we make any remarks on the more recent parts of the history of the Bengal native infantry, we shall offer some observations on the composition of the army of that presidency. The native cavalry are not mentioned in the work before us; the authors having strictly adhered to the original intention of giving an account of the native infantry only. This corps, which now consists of eight regiments, is comparatively young. Its formation on the present establishment was only just completed when the Mahratta war of 1803 commenced. The conduct of the Bengal cavalry however in the severe service that ensued bas justly raised their reputation, and they at present form a most efficient and distinguished branch of the army to which they belong.* The men

are We have only to peruse the dispatches of the late Lord Lake in 1803 and 1804, to be sensible of the excellence this corps very early obtained. We know few military exploits of cavalry more extraordinary than that which he perforined with a column of three regiments of British light dragoons, and three of native cavalry, supported by some borse artillery, and a small reserve of infantry. With this corps his lordship persued Jesu unt Row Holkar from Delhi through the Douab, uill he came up with


are rather stouter than those in the same corps at Madras.' The latter are almost all Mahomedans, and three fourths of the Bengal cavalry are of the same race. The fact is, that with the exception of the Mabratta tribe, 'the Hindoos are not, generally speaking, so much disposed as Mahomedans to the duties of a trooper; and though the Mahomedans may be more dissipated and less moral in their

private conduct than the Hindoos, they are zealous, and bighspirited soldiers, and it is excellent policy to have a considerable proportion of them in the service, to which experience has shewn they often become very warmly attached. In the native infantry of Bengal the Hindoos are in the full proportion of three-fourths to the Mahomedans. They consist chiefly of Rajpoots, who are a distinguished race among the Khiteree or military tribe. We may judge of the size of these men when we are told that the standard below which no recruit is taken is five feet six inches.* The great proportion of the grenadiers are six feet and upwards. The Rajpoot is born a soldier. The mother speaks of nothing to her infant but deeds of arms, and every sentiment and action of the future man is marked by the first impressions that he has received. If he tills the ground, (which is the common occupation of this class,) his sword and shield are placed near the furrow, and moved as his labour advances. The frame of the Rajpoot is almost always improved (even if his pursuits are those of civil life) by martial exercises. He is from habit temperate in his diet, of a generous, though warm temper, and of good moral conduct. He is, when well-treated, obedient, zealous, and faithful. Neither the Hindoo por the Mahomedan soldier of India can be termed revengeful, though both are prone to extreme violencet in points where they deem

their and defeated him at Futty-ghur. Lord Lake, in a dispatch dated 18th November, in which he gives an account of this operation, observes, the troops have daily marched a distance of twenty-three or twenty-four miles. During the night and day previous to the action, they marched fifty-eight miles, and from the distance to which they pursued the enemy, the space passed over before they had taken up their ground must have exceeded seventy miles.'

• Before 1796 it was always five feet six inches and a half. By an order in 1809 men may be taken for light infantry corps, as low as five feet five inches.

+ One instance is given in the work before us of the action of this violent spirit. In 1772 a sepoy of the now first battalion of the 10th regiment, who had suffered what he supposed an injury, fell out of the ranks when the corps was at exercise, and going up to Captain Ewens, the commanding officer, with recovered arms, as if to make some request, took a deliberate aim, and shot him ; then patiently awaited the death he had merited. We could give, from our own knowledge, several examples of similar feeling-two will suffice. Captain Crook, formerly of the Madras cavalry, struck a sentry for allowing a bullock that brought water to his tent, to step over the threshold and dirty it. The man took no notice of what had occurred till relieved from his post: he then went to his lines, and a short time afterwards sought his captain, and, taking deliberate aim at him, shot him dead upon the spot. He made no attempt to escape. He had avenged his honour from the blows he had received, and met with calmness and fortitude the death that was awarded as the punishment of his crime.


their honour, of which they have a very nice sense, to be slighted or insulted. The Rajpoots sometimes want energy, but seldom, if ever, courage. It is remarkable in this class, that even when their animal spirits have been subdued so far as to cause a cessation of exertion, they shew no fear of death, which they meet in every form it can present itself with surprising fortitude and resignation. Such is the general character of a race of men whose numbers in the army of Bengal amount to between thirty and forty thousand, and of whom we can recruit in our own provinces to any amount. But this instrument of power must be managed with care and wisdom, or that which is our strength may become our danger.

Minds of the cast we have described are alive to every impulse, and from similarity of feeling will all vibrate at the same touch. If we desire to preserve their attachment, we must continue to treat them with kindness, liberality, and justice. We must attend to the most triling of their prejudices, and avoid rash innovations; but, above all, those that are calculated to convey to their minds the most distant alarm in points connected with their usages, or religion. A detachment of Bengal native troops shared in the glory acquired by Lord Cornwallis in his war against Tippoo Sultan in 1790 and 1791. From that time till 1803 the only operation of any consequence in which they were engaged was a short campaign, in Rohilcund, in 1794. The rude and untrained, but fierce and hardy enemies against whom Sir R. Abercrombie had to act, were perhaps too much despised, and they took advantage of a confusion caused in his right wing, by the bad behaviour of the English commandant of a small body of half disciplined cavalry, to make a furious charge, by which a most destructive impression was made on two battalions of sepoys, and a regiment of Europeans.

Their desperate career was checked by the fire of the English artillery, by whose good conduct, and the steady valour of the other parts of the line, a victory was ultimately gained. The native troops never, perhaps, displayed more courage than on this trying

An officer (still living) was provoked at some offence the man had committed, to strike a Madras native trooper under his command. On the night of the same day, as he was sitting with another officer in his tent, the trooper tame in, and taking aim at him, fired; but owing to the other officer striking his arm, the ball missed. As, however, he fell in the confusion, and the light was extinguished, his companion, who considered him killed, ran to obtain aid, and to seize the murderer, who had another pistol in his hand. The moment he was out of the tent, he heard the other pistol go off ; and on returning with a guard of men and some lights, he found that the irooper, conceiving that the first shot had taken effect, and that his honour was avenged by the death of the person who had insulted him, had, with the second pistol, shot himself through the head.

cccasion, occasion, and all regretted that the infamous* conduct of one man had caused such serious loss of officers and men in some of the most distinguished corpst of the army.

The campaigns of 1803 and 1804 present a series of actions and sieges, in every one of which the Bengal sepoys showed their accustomed valour. At the battles of Delhi and Laswarree they were as eminently distinguished as at the sieges of Agra and Deeg; and we may, perhaps, safely assert that in the only two great reverses which occurred during the war, the retreat of Colonel Monson and the siege of Burtpore, the courage, firmness, and attachment of the native troops were more conspicuous than in its most brilliant periods. We know sufficient of the former operations to regret that no full and faithful account of them has been yet published; nor does the work before us sufficiently supply this blank. We can only express our conviction, founded on a perusal of a private journal kept by an officer of the detachment, that in this disastrous retreat, the native troops (with the exception of a very few, who, after suffering almost unparalleled hardships, were deluded by the offers of the enemy to desert) behaved in the most noble manner. They endured the greatest privations and distresses, during the march from the banks of the Chumbul in Malwah, where the first retrograde movement was made, till their arrival at Agra, a distance of nearly four hundred miles. They had at once to combat the elements (for it rained almost incessantly) and the enemy. Scenes of horrort occurred which were hardly ever surpassed. Yet, though deprived of regular food and rest, and harassed with continual attacks, their spirit was unbroken.—They maintained throughout the most severe discipline. We are assured that on many occasious, when their European officers, worn down by the climate and fatigue, appeared faint or desponding, the men next

The name of this officer was Ramsay. He escaped by desertion from the punishment be had so amply merited.

+ The corps on the right of the army was the 13th battalion, which had been emi. nently distinguished against the French at Cuddalore. It had earned more laurels under its well-known commander, Captain Norman Macleod, in the campaigns of Lord Cornwallis. Captain Ramsay's cavalry rode unexpectedly over this fine battalion, and five thousand Rohillas charged it before it could recover from the confusion into which it was thrown.

| Particularly at the Chumbullee Nullah, a rapid torrent, at which the elephants were employed to carry the troops over. The animals, becoming wearied or impatient, shook off those on their backs, numbers of whom were drowncd. But a still more horrid scene ensued.—The fatigued elephants could not bring over the followers. The Bheels, a mountain banditti, encouraged by Holkar, came down upon the unprotected females and children, whom they massacred in the most inhuman manner. It was on this extreme trial that some of the gallant fellous, who had before suffered every hardship with firmness, gave way to despair. Several of them, maddened with the screams of their wives and children, threw themselves, with their firelocks, into the rapid stream, and perished in a vain attempt to aid those they loved more than life.



them exclaimed, “ Keep up your heart, Sir, we will take you in safety to Agra.'* When in square, and sustaining charges from the enemy's horse, it more than once happened, when a musket was fired by a young soldier, that a veteran struck him with the buttend of his firelock, exclaiming, 'Are you mad, to destroy our discipline and make us like the rabble that are attacking us?'

The only serious impatience that the sepoys of this detachment shewed, was to be led against the enemy; and the manner in which they behaved on all occasions given them of sigualizing their valour, shewed that this feeling had its rise in no vain confidence. The flank companies, under Captain O'Donnell, were very successful in beating up the quarters of a considerable corps of the enemy on the 21st July. On the 24th of August, when all the detachment, which consisted of five battalions and six companies of sepoys, had been sent across the Bannas river, except the 2d battalion of the 2d regiment and some piquets, Holkar brought up his infantry and guns to attack this corps, which not only defended its position, but advanced with the utmost gallantry, and obtained possession of several pieces of the enemy's artillery. It could not, however, be supported by the other parts of the force, who were divided from it by the river, and it was almost annihilated. Those who witnessed the attack which it made upon Holkar’s line from the opposite bank of the Bannas, speak with admiration of the heroism of the European officers, and of the gallant men whom they led to a momentary but fatal victory. At the close of this affair they saw a jemadar (native lieutenant) retiring towards the river, pursued by five or six men.

He held the standard of his battalion in one hand, and a sword, with which be defended himself, in the other. When arrived at the river he seemed to have attained his object of saving the colours of his corps, and, springing with them into the current, sunk to rise no more.

There have been few officers who better understood the character of soldiers than the late Lord Lake. He had early discovered that of the Bengal Sepoys. He attended to their prejudices, flattered their pride, and praised their valour. They repaid his consideration of them with gratitude and affection, and during the whole of the late Mahratta war, their zeal and devotion to the public service was increased by the regard and attachment which they entertained for the commander in chief. Sufficient instances of this occur in the work now before us. There is none, however, more remarkable than the conduct he pursued towards the shattered corps of Colonel Monson's detachment. He formed them into a reserve, and

promised them every opportunity of signalizing themselves. No con

We have been informed of this fact by officers to whom these expressions were used,


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