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The present second battalion of the 12th regiment appears, from Captain Williams's account, to have been raised some months before the Mathews. He indeed calls it the first raised battalion. This
corps was at the battle of Plassey. It was named by the Sepoys the Lal Pultan, or the Red* Battalion, and afterwards Gallis, from the name of one of its first captains. It was associated with the Mathews in all its early service, particularly at Masulipatain, Gheretty, &c. but in 1764, it mutinied, on the pretext of some promises which were made to it having been broken. Having no apparent object, it was easily reduced to obedience; but Major Munro, (afterwards Sir Hector Munro,) who then commanded the army, thought a severe example necessary, and twenty-eight of the most guilty were tried by a drum-head court-martial and sentenced to death. Eight of these were directed to be immediately blown away from the guns of the force then at Choprah. As they were on the point of executing the sentence, three grenadiers, who happened to be amongst them, stept forth and claimed the privilege of being blown away from the right hand guns. They had always fought on the right, (they said,) and they hoped they would be permitted to die at that post of honour.' Their request was granted, and they were the first executed. 'I am sure (says Captain Williams, who then belonged to the Royal Marines employed in Bengal, and who was an eye-witness of this remarkable scene) that there was not a dry eye among the Marines, although they had been long accustomed to hard service, and two of them had actually been in the execution party which shot Admiral Byng in the year 1757.?
This corps subsequently distinguished itself in 1776, at the battle of Korah. It had been known originally as the first battalion. It was afterwards numbered the 9th, from the rank of its captain. In a new arrangement of the army it was made the 16th. then the 17th. By the regulations of 1796, it has become the 2d of the 12th regiment; and it has of late years, as we shall hereafter bave occasion to mention, far outdone its former fame. But we have said enough to shew the style and object of Captain Williams's Memoir; we now proceed to the second part, or supplement of that work.
There is sufficient internal evidence to satisfy us that the author of this part of the volume is an officer of experience and talent in the army which he describes. He is evidently possessed of the fullest information, and treats the subject like one who has made it the study of his life. The affection and admiration which he evinces in every page for the native soldiery of Bengal made us peruse his account with an impression that he was a partial narrator of their deeds, but it is no more than justice to state that we have not discovered an instance in which his warm, and we may add enthusiastic, feelings have betrayed his judgment, and we have found throughout that his accuracy hardly ever admits a fact that is not supported by official record.
* Probably from its dress.
+ The name of this officer (who is still alive) is Galliez. The natives of India often corrupt English names in an extraordinary manner; Dalrymple is made into Daldujjle; Ochterlony, Lonyoschier; Littlejohn, John Litton ; Shairp, Surrup; &c. &c.
Though this part of the work professes to give an account of events subsequent to 1796, the author takes a retrospective view of the changes in the numbers and formation of the Bengal native army, from the earliest date till the publication of the regulations of that year. He also brings under our view the most remarkable military operations of the latter years of the administration of Mr. Hastings, of whose character and genius he speaks in a strain of eulogium the justice of which we are not disposed to ques. tion. When the standards of Hyder Ally floated over the desolated fields of the Carnatic, which the inert rulers of Madras had left exposed at every point to invasion; when a league of Mahratta leaders brought combined disgrace and disconfiture on the imniature efforts of the government of Bombay; when internal rebellion threatened the peace of Bengal, and the opposition and violence of his colleagues embarrassed and impeded all his measures, the mind of Hastings derived energy froin misfortune and fire from collision, and no one, we are convinced, can dispassionately read the history of the period to which we allude, without being satisfied that, to his intimate knowledge of the interests of the government which he administered, to his perfect acquaintance with the characters of every class of the natives, and to his singular power of kindling the zeal and securing the affections of those he employed, we owe the preservation of the British power in India. Among the wisest and boldest of the measures he adopted at this moment of public emergency was the sending of two great detachments from the native army of Bevgal to Bombay and Madras. A general account of both these is given in the work before us. We shall first notice that which is prior in date.
* At the commencement of the year 1778,' say's our author,' the presidency of Bombay having been seriously embarrassed by the pressure of the Mahratta war which then prevailed, the governor-general felt the necessity for effectual succour, both in specie and troops, being afforded to that quarter of the Honourable Company's possessions, with as little delay as possible. Supplies of the former had been, and would again be, sent by sea, in the course of a six weeks' or two months' voyage, (as well as by bills through the native bankers of Benares), but no such resource presented itself with regard to troops. On this emergency, the comprehensive mind of Warren Hastings formed the resolution (on his own responsibility, when opposed, as it was understood, by a majority
Origin and State of the Indian Army. of his colleagues in the government) to order a compact yet efficient detachment of native troops from the Bengal army to march across the continent of India “ through the hostile and unknown regions from the banks of the Ganges to the western coast of India," to create a division in the councils and operations of the enemy, and eventually to co-operate with the Bombay government and forces in the prosecution of the war in which they were involved.'
This detachment, which was composed of six native battalions, a corps of native cavalry, and a proportion of artillery, all together amounting to 103 European ufficers, 6624 native troops, with 31,000 followers, including the bazar, carriers of baggage, servants of officers, and families of Sepoys, had to march upwards of eight hundred miles through countries where every obstacle and opposition were to be overcome. It has been well observed by an excellent military author,* that an army in India has the appearance of ' a nation emigrating, guarded by its troops.' To the mere European it would appear that this immense proportion of followers inust encumber instead of aiding the progress of a corps on a long march, but those better instructed in Indian warfare know that it is, generally speaking, the number of followers which gives efficiency to an army in the east, as every person with it contributes (if the machine be well managed) in some manner or other to its support. The composition of an Indian army, and the scene of its operations, are so different from any thing that is known in other countries, that we cannot be surprised at the erroneous judgment which those unacquainted with the subject so often form. They forget that every luxury which they impute to the European in India originates not in a habit of indulgencies but in an endeavour to obtain relief from severe suffering; and that if an Indian officer carries as great a quantity of wine, or other articles, which custom has rendered necessary, as he can, it is because he has little prospect after once the campaign has commenced of ever receiving another supply. The country in which he operates furnishes nothing, and the communication with European settlements is in general, from the enemy's superiority in light cavalry, cut off. If he has a large and commodioust tent, it is because he cannot, from the nature of the climate, exist in a small one, the heat often rising, even in the best tents of the camp, to 110° of Fahrenheit's thermometer. If when ill he is carried in a dooly or palanquin, it is because there are no hospitals, or even depôts, to which he can be sent, and there
Lieutenant General Dirom. + We are assured that the Duke of Wellington, when he commanded the army in the Deckan, in 1803, actually ordered a corps to remain in garrison, and refused to allow it to advance with bis army, because the officers had neglected to furnish themselves with tents of sufficient texture and size. His experience had taught him how essential such tents were to preserve their health and to enable them to do their duty,
are often no roads on which light wheel carriages can travel. But the European soldier will understand the essential difference which exists between field service in India and in Europe, when told that owing to regard for the prejudices of the natives, and other causes, the term 'billet' is unknown in the former country; and that the troops in India seldom derive support, and never shelter or accominodation, from the villages and towns of the country in which they operate.
But to return from this digression to the detachment which was ordered to the relief of the settlement of Bombay. Its first rendezvous was Culpee, a town on the right bank of the Jumpah, near Cawnpore, whence it commenced its march on the 12th of . June, 1778. It reached Rajgurh, a town in Bundlecund on the 17th August, where it halted so much longer than Mr. Hastings thought necessary that he removed Colonel Leslie, the commanding officer, and appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Goddard to that charge. Under this active and enterprizing officer it continued its route through Malwah and Caudeish to Surat, presenting the extraordinary spectacle of a corps of the natives of Hindostan under the guidance of a few English officers, marching from the banks of the Ganges to the westernmost shores of India. During the five years that they were absent from their home, the men of this detachment conducted themselves in the most exemplary manner, and acquired distinction in every service in which they were ,employed. We shall not repeat the warm and animated eulogium which Mr. Hastings passed upon this corps in one of the last General Orders he issued to the army in Bengal, but we sincerely subscribe to the truth of his observation, that their conduct showed " that there are no difficulties, which the true spirit of military enterprize is not capable of surmounting'
The force detached to the Carnatic in 1781 was commanded by Colonel Pearse. It consisted of five regiments of two small battalions (500 nien each) of native infantry, some native cavalry, and a proportion of artillery. This corps, which marched about eleven hundred miles along the sea-coast through the provin of Cuttack and the Northern Circars to Madras, arrived at that presidency at a most eventful period, and their services were eminently useful to the preservation of our power in that quar
Among the many occasions which this detachment had of distinguishing itself, the attack on the French lines at Cuddalore in 1789 was the inost remarkable. The Bengal Sepoys that were engaged on that occasion behaved nobly. It was, we believe, one of the first times that European troops and the disciplined natives of India had met at the bayonet. The high spirit and bodily vigour of the rajpoots of the provinces of Bahar and Benares (the
class of which three fourths of this ariny was then composed) proved fully equal to the contest. In a partial action, which took place in a sortie made by the French, they were defeated with severe loss; and the memory of this event continues to be che rished with just pride both by the officers and men of the Bengal native army. Had the result of this affair, and the character of these sepoys been more generally known, some of our countrymen would have been freed from that excessive alarm which was entertained for the safety of our eastern possessions, when the late despot of continental Europe threatened them with invasion. We trust that every event that can seriously disturb the peace of our Indian empire is at a great distance; but if we even heard that an European army had crossed the Indus, we should not tremble for its fate. We well know that the approach of such a force would strike no terror into the minds of the men of whom we are writing, and that acting with British troops, and led by British officers, they would advance with almost as assured a confidence of victory against a line of well-disciplined Europeans as against a rabble of their own untrained countrymen. They might fail; but they are too bold, and too conscious of their own courage and strength ever to anticipate defeat.
We should feel hesitation in stating our sentiments so strongly on this subject, if we did not know them to be those which have been entertained and avowed by many eminent commanders,* who have had opportunities of forming a judgment upon this question. When Colonel Pearse's detachment, which had been reduced by service from 5000 to 2000 men, returned to Bengal after an absence of four years, the policy of Mr. Hastings heaped every distinction upon them that he thought calculated to reward their merits, or to stimulate others to future exertion of a similar nature. He visited this corps, and his personal conduct towards both the European officers and natives gave grace to his public measures. A lasting impressiont was made on the minds of all; and every favour was doubled by the manner in which it was conferred. The rebellion of Cheyt Singh, the rajah of Benares, in 1761,
We may particularly quote the late Lord Lake. No officer ever saw troops under more varied and severe trials than he did the Bengal sepoys. He never spoko of them but with admiration; and was forward to declare, that he considered them equal to a contest with any troops that could be brought against them.
** An officer of rank and distinction, who, when a young subaltern, was an eye-witness of this scene, observes in a letter which he has written to us on the subject, Mr. Hastings, dressed in a plain blue coat, with his lead uncovered, rode along the ranks. The troops had the most striking appearance of hardy veterans. They were all as black as ink contrasted with the sleek olive skins of our home corps. The sight of that day, (he concludes,) and the feelings it excited, have never been absent from my mind: to it, and to the affecting orders (which Mr. Hastings issued) I am satisfied I in a great degree one whatever of professional pride and emulation I have since possessed.'