Imatges de pÓgina

stancy from the resolution which instigates them to undertake journies to so great a distance from their homes, and through the midst of armies of whose superior prowess and power they have had incontestible proofs. Mounted on their small horses, frequently heavily laden, without any other guide than the intelligence of their lubbreea, they pass over an incredible tract of country, generally in bodies not exceeding two or three thousand men, holding an undeviating course until they reach their destination. The adventurous spirit of their leaders stimulates them to enterprizes which to weaker minds would appear impracticable, but in which they are well seconded by the devotion of their adherents. Their abstinence is often extraordinary. In a retreat their food is frequently nothing more than corn plucked from the fields as they pass, and separated from the chaff by rubbing between the hands. This, with a little water, is the only sustenance they can procure, till they attain some place of comparative security, when they again begin their ravages, and go on plundering friends and foes indiscriminately all the way to their own country. The worst feature of their character is displayed on these occasions. They every where commit the most dreadful enormities, and it may justly be said that all their good qualities are obliterated by their cruelty and barbarity. Their progress is almost always marked by the snioking ruins of villages, ihe shrieks of women, and the groans of their muulated husbands. What they cannot remove is remorselessly destroyed; and it has truly been observed, that were such pests' permitted to continue their merciless depredations without molestation, the peninsula of India would in time become a desert, and the few inhabitants that survived the general wreck, a band of savage and licentious robbers.' Happily for the countries subject to their inroads, their stay in one place is but for a few hours, and two or three months the usual limit of their expeditions.

It has been supposed, from the apparent directness of their operations, that their information regarding the countries through which they pass, and at which their ravages are aimed, is unusually correct; but there are many instances in which chance rather than settled design has been their guide. They have no funds wherewith to pay the services of spies, but in their route they seize whomsoever the fortune of war throws in their way, and from the prisoners gather those particulars with which they wish to be acquainted. The probability of a large booty is the first subject of their inquiry, and the next the number of troops and quantity of fire-arms by which they are likely to be opposed. That the replies to these investigations, rather than previous intelligence, influence their motions, we would not state in opposition to the generally received opinion, were we unable to bring forward some proof in support of our theory. The following incident, among several others of the same kind, has been related to us. When Buksoo, in 1816, crossed the Nerbuddah, his only intention was to have plundered the Nizam's country, between the listnah and Godavery, but on crossing the latter river be was met by a faqueer, who informed him of the richness of the country round Guntoor, and of the facility with which it might be plundered, froin there being no troops in the neighbourhood. The offer of conducting him thither was immediately accepted, all the former plans were changed or relinquished, Guntoor-became the object of cupidity, and the faqueer rode on horseback at the head of the 'toll' by the 'side of Buksoo, through a circuitous route of above 700 miles. They laid waste the Northern Circars nearly up to Calcutta, and after the completion of the business a voluntary contribution of 1200 or 1500 rupees was raised among them, and given, as the reward of his services, to the faqueer, who, on the retreat of the toll, went on a pilgrimage to Muckwanpoor.

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On this occasion, they collected an immensity of plunder, and perpetrated the most horrible cruelties. And it should be recollected, that they had been making similar incursions into the dominions of our allies ever since the year 1811. In 1814 they entered the province of Bahar, and up to the period of which we have been treating twice invaded the Madras territories. In the last inroad their augmented numbers and wanton atrocities threw the whole southern part of the peninsula into a state of alarm. Passing without opposition or difficulty through the states of the Peishwah and the Nizam, they spread themselves over the face of the country, and carried fire and sword almost from one end to the other of the district of Ganjam. On their return home, laden with the spoil and stained with the blood of our subjects, we have the satisfaction to say that several parties of them were overtaken and defeated by the Company's troops, against which they were not able to contend. The success of our detachments under Majors Lushington, Smith, and Macdowall, as well as of the Sepoys under Lieutenant Borthwick, in the southern part of India, and the equally brilliant exploits of several officers of the Bengal army, had a very salutary influence in checking the boldness of the enemy, inspiring our own force with confidence, and convincing the native powers that we still preserved our ancient superiority in arms and the art of war.

Heretofore their practice has been to plunder all places they can master; when resistance is made they dismount from their horses, and either keep up a fire from some shelter upon the defenders, or, in the event of their having no fire-arms, shower down large stones upon them till they oblige them to relinquish their post, when the Pindarries charge forward and storm it. If any of the


assailants be killed or wounded they give up the attack. The wounded carried away on horseback as well as their means permit, but when unable to accompany the toll they are left to the mercy of the villagers. As soon as they get possession of a town every man seizes such of the unfortunate inhabitants as fall in his way, and compels them by threats and torture to make a discovery of the place where their wealth is concealed. The usual mode in which ihey estort confession is by tying a cloth, filled with ashes or fine dust, over the nose and mouth of the unhappy sufferer, and, by striking him forcibly on the back or breast, obliging him to inhale it. The suffocating pangs which result from this treatment being found the most certain and expeditious method of overcoming human fortitude, they are the most usually inflicted. No regard is paid to age or sex; all are doomed to the same excruciating torments.

Of the spoil thus obtained there is no regular division, but each man retains possession of what he can secure. Yet as some must remain on the outside of the town or village to hold their comrades' horses, they are then entitled to a proportion from those who employ them; and, in this case, the booty is divided into three parts. The captor takes one as his right, another he bestows upon the person who held his horse, and the third, which is called 'peer bhata,' (peculiar allowance,) he keeps for his trouble in getting it. In the event of an ogirra' (stranger) acquiring a large booty, the thokdar will often seize the whole of it, unless he has been satisfied by a douceur beforehand. Quarrels continually occur relative. to the distribution of the plunder among those who take it; these are always referred to the lubbreea for adjustment, and a small tax on each forms his chief source of emolument. He assembles a sort of council which settles the affair immediately, and the propriety of its decisions is rarely questioned. When it happens, as it sometimes does, that the lubbreea himself enters a village to encourage bis people, if he sees a party engaged in robbing a rich individual, he claims a share of what they may obtain. This is occasionally refused, but more frequently granted, though more from personal regard than as an acknow ledged right.

This is the mode of arranging disputes arising out of the division of plunder. The more inveterate feuds which prevail among them, as well as among all other Moslem tribes, are not heard of during an expedition. When once assembled, previously to setting out, ali former quarrels are left in abeyance, and the utmost cordiality takes -place. The thirst of private revenge is sacrificed to the common cause, or its pursuit postponed until the Dussera or Mohurrum may afford an opportunity of gratifying it with impunity.

From the circumstances we have stated, it will appear that even while we write new and famous leaders may have sprung up among


the Pindarries; but a brief sketch of those most distinguished, and the era when their extirpation was determined upon by the Indian government, cannot fail to be interesting.

The Jubbreeas of the parties which invaded the Deccan and the Northern Circars, are Buksoo, Bhattia, Bheeka, Syed, and Bajee Narsia ka Rumzans. The chief of the Holkar branch of the Pindarries is named Kawder Buksh; those of inferior note Tookoo and Sahib Khan. Their united strength may be computed at nearly five thousand horse, which are generally cantoned in the vicinity of Kunool and Shundra. Kurreem Khan, Cheetoo, (or Seetoo, as he is often called,) and Dost Mohummud, are also principal and powerful chiefs, and most of the subordinate heads of dhurrahs or tribes pay a sort of tacit acknowledgment to their superiority.

Of the recently more active invaders, Buksoo, otherwise Hoosain Buksh, is the most eminent character among the lubbreeas of the present day, and is accounted a man of the greatest sagacity and skill, excelling all his contemporaries in the conduct of a' toll.' He is represented as a tall, fair, handsome person, of an athletic form, and about thirty-five years of age. Though brave and enterprizing, he is cautious in the extreme, and never risks an action when he can carry luis point by other means. In difficulty and danger his chief resource is the consummate art with which he eludes his pursuers; and his prudence and cunning have been manifested in some extraordinary retreats. Constantly on horseback from liis earliest years, he is enured to every hardship and fatigue; neither elevated by success, nor depressed by defeat, his courage and presence of mind never fail him, and he sets an example of perseverance and fortitude in the most toilsome marches and iniminent perils. He is also master of the great art of conciliating all around him, whom he attaches to his person by affability and kindness, as was evinced by the conduct of his followers on the march from the Nerbuddah. So strongly did they feel their dependence upon him, and so sensible were they of the magnitude of the loss they should sustain if any accident happened to him, that even in their most urgent distress, when in want of a meal themselves, they wonld always procure something for the lubbreea. Such is his reputation, that the best and bravest of the Pindarry sirdars followed bim in this last escursion, confident of success under his auspices; and the very toll' which accompanied him was not his own, but belonged to Cadir Nabob, who, notwithstanding his rank and title, was content to serve under him in the field. Bhattia and Bheeka' Syed also accompanied Buksoo in his expedition to Guntoor; but he was the nominal head of the confederacy. They remained united until they crossed the Kistnah : Bheeka' Syed separated from the horde after the plunder of Guntoor, but in his retreat pursued nearly the same route as the other two, when, in crossing the Ajunta ghauts, he was overtaken by the Mysore cavalry, who captured some men and horses, and killed several of his followers. He is, nevertheless, noted as a gallant and resolute leader, whose courage is equal to any exploit.


Buksoo continued his retreat from Guntoor, accompanied by Bhattia, till he arrived in the neighbourhood of Colonel Doveton's camp:--here he accidentally lost his party during the night, and sounded his trumpet for them to join him; Bhattia's trumpet was also blown at the same instant, and the Pindarries were thereby divided into two ' tolls, which took different routes. Bhattia was attacked by Lieutenant Reid of the 20th, in descending the ghauts, and sustained some loss in making his escape; while Buksoo, either more wary or more fortunate, passed unseen between the detachments intended to intercept him. It has been calculated that each man in his “toll' carried off between fifteen hundred and two thousand rupees; and by his success in this undertaking, he not only acquired himself very considerable property, but added greatly to his fame as a partizan. Emboldened by prosperity, he now declared that he would reuder himself memorable as a lubbreea, and visit countries where the name of a Pindarry had never been heard! He accordingly prepared to ravage the British territory to the south of the Toombuddra, and to enter the Kokeen. But obtaming information of the numerous detachments on the banks of the river, and of the natural difficulties of the country, he was obliged to forego his original design; and, after making a few marches up the north bank of the Kistnah, turned towards the north by Punderpoor. On his arrival near Barenda, he learnt the dispersion of Bhattia’s ‘toll'; the spirits of his men were much depressed by this news, as they apprehended the same disaster might attend them if they ventured too close to the vicinity of Jeroor, or Ahmednuggur, which Buksoo had proposed. They became loud in their demands to be led homewards; but the 'lubbur' having gathered but little booty in proportion to the others, he wished to afford them an opportunity of procuring more, and therefore took an easterly direction, leisurely plundering the country from Tooljapoor to Nooldroog, where he was surprized by the detachment sent after him under Major Macdowall. The least important effect of that night's surprize was the complete disarming and dispersion of a body of banditti, who had been the scourge of the whole country. On this occasion, Buksoo suffered the greatest disgrace that could befall a lubbreea, by losing his two horses: his standard, his trumpets, and his matchlock were likewise taken, and he himself, not without difficulty, escaped from the field on foot.


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