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LORD METCALFE once compared our supremacy in the East to a man sitting on a mine. That mine has now exploded, in the shape of the fearful tragedy which has spread so rapidly through the whole presidency of Bengal, and the report has burst like a thunder-clap upon the government and the East India Company. But on them alone : abundant proof has come to hand that every European who has been in contact with the Bengal Sepoy foresaw the inevitable result of the system of insubordination and lax discipline tolerated in that army. If, in a multitude of counsellors there be safety, the pamphlets and documents produced to explain the causes of the insurrection would be amply sufficient to crush the mutiny at once ; but, unfortunately, these suggestions fell on a deaf ear, and the Board of Directors must now bitterly regret the studied inattention they paid to the warnings urged upon them by every officer who had the interest of India at heart.

To us the solution of the mystery appears painfully simple: the Mussulmans are the sole instigators of the dastardly bloodshed and revolt now raging through the whole of Bengal and the North-West Provinces. A proclamation has been in circulation at Nagpore and all over India drawing notice to a prophecy that the reign of Feringhis in the East would cease on the 23rd June, 1857, exactly 100 years from the battle of Plassey, and the followers of Muhammad once more gain the supremacy. In preparation for this event some influential Muhammadans formed a conspiracy to seize on Calcutta, the insurrection being planned in accordance with the prophecy. So soon as the city had been seized, persons who swore on the Koran and joined in the massacre would have a certain section made over to them for their sole use and benefit. It is further asserted that a nawab, residing no great distance from Calcutta, promised to send 100,000 men to the assistance of the rebels. This view is quite confirmed by the fact that the ex-King of Oude was regarded, from an early period, as mixed up in the mutiny, which eventually led to his arrest. This circumstance (writes the editor of Allen's Indian Mail) will show the full force of the statement made by Major Bird, to the effect that the Company's Sepoys had assured the king that if he would fight for his crown they were ready to join him. Other influences were probably at work, too, if any credit can be placed in the following extract from a letter dated Calcutta, 12th June : “ Much has been said here, and no doubt much has reached Europe respecting Russian influence ; I will not repeat all the stories current. I was paying a visit some evenings ago at the house of a wealthy merchant, who feels very uneasy at the present state of affairs. Among the persons assembled to take tea was a Russian officer, with whom I had a conversation, which left me under the impression that if Russia was not precisely assisting in the movement, she at least sees it with pleasure, and is preparing to take advantage of it. No doubt this is no new idea, but I believe the officer to whom I allude did not tell me all he knew. I wished to see him again yesterday, and I called at his house. I was told that he had quitted Calcutta, and that he had taken the road to Bissem


poor. This circumstance confirmed me in the opinion I had formed of Russia. Bissempoor is on the direct road to Delhi.”

So soon as the Muhammadan preparations were made, the leaders of the conspiracy began looking out for allies, and they had a nucleus of sedition ready to hand in the Bengal arny. While the chupatties and lotus flowers were being sent round to the outlying villages as signals for revolt, the troops were being worked upon by emissaries with the fatal result we have now to deplore.

The Bengal Sepoys have always been a stiff-necked generation; and a perusal of General Jacob's pamphlet on the Bengal army must convert any one who still fancies that the Bengal Sepoys have been more sinned against than sinning. That gallant officer tells us, that the effect of enlisting men of a certain caste or creed to the exclusion of others in the Indian army, is to subject that ariny to the control, not of the

government and the articles of war, but to that of Brahmins and Fukkeers. By this system a man is not chosen on account of his fitness to be a soldier, but because he is a twice-born worshipper of Vishnu. No low caste man must be admitted into the ranks of the Bengal army for fear of offending the lazy and insolent Brahmins. The consequences are ruinous to discipline; treachery, mutiny, villany of all kinds may be carried on among the private soldiers, unknown to their officers, to any extent, when the men are of one caste of Hindus, and when the rules of caste are more regarded than those of military discipline. To such a climax does this evil reach, that Bengal commanding officers have been compelled to discharge excellent Sepoys, because the other men had discovered them to be of an inferior caste, and insisted on their discharge. The effect of caste is carried to such an extent in the Bengal army, that a regiment of native cavalry is unable to picket, unsaddle, or groom its horses, until the arrival of its syces and grass-cutters. Other evils have been amply referred to by Sir Charles Napier, from which we may quote the following as containing one of the chief exciting causes of discontent:

The great military evil of India which strikes me is this. All the old officers get snug places, and regiments are left to boys. The 8th Native Infantry were on parade for inspection last week, 800 strong, and there were only three officers, of whom two had not been dismissed drill! This will not do; look to the native officer; and he, teaching the Saheb, naturally looks upon

him as his pupil, not his master. Some day evil will arise from all this. If I had a voice I would insist upon field-officers being with their regiments and not holding civil situations, at least not more than one field-officer and one captain being away on civil employments. That officers do civil duties far better than civil servants I have not the slightest doubt, but then there ought to be more officers. Sir Thomas Munro, I hear, said he thought three officers were sufficient for regiments. This is high authority, yet I confess to thinking him wrong; or else, which is very possible, the state of the army and style of officer have changed—not altogether better nor altogether worse, but become different.

Such, then, being the state of the Bengal army, the Mussulman conspirators found no difficulty in raising a spirit of revolt among them, by propagating artful reports that their religion was in danger, and which reports were probably exaggerated by the missionary zeal of Colonel Wheeler of the 34th N.I., stationed at Barrackpore. The greased cartridges furnished a favourable pretext for revolt, and was speedily taken advantage of. To show that this was a mere pretext, we may

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refer to the correspondence lately published by parliament. So far back as the 22nd of January, a "classic" of low caste asked a Sepoy of the 2nd Grenadiers to supply him with water from his “lotah.” The Brahmin refused, on the ground that the other would defile the vessel. The classic rejoined that he need not pride himself on his caste, for he would soon lose it, as he would have to bite cartridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows. The report spread, and the men were afraid that when they went home their friends would refuse to eat with them. At Dum-dum the native troops were paraded, and asked if they had any complaints to make ; about two-thirds of the detachment stepped to the front, including all the native cavalry officers, and respectfully urged their objections, suggesting the use of wax and oil. The men were supplied with the necessary materials from the bazaar, and allowed to grease their own cartridges. But at Barrackpore the Sepoys had already proceeded to mutinous excesses, probably instigated by the “Dhurma Sobha," a religious Hindu party in Calcutta, who had spread the report that government intended to convert the Sepoys by force. A special court of inquiry was instituted by government, and every complaint urged by the Sepoys against the greased cartridges proved to be utterly unfounded. Before long, however, the authorities were to learn that the Sepoys were determined on revolt, even if they had no valid

On the 18th of February, a jemadar of the 34th Regiment revealed the proceedings, in which he had borne a part. He stated that three hundred men of his regiment had assembled the day prior to the inquiry, and said that they were determined to die for their religion, and that if they could make an arrangement that evening, the next night they would plunder the station and kill all the Europeans, and then they would go where they liked.” On the 20th of the same month the 19th Regiment mutinied, and was eventually disbanded. Such were the precursors of the mutiny which has spread with such unexampled rapidity through the whole length and breadth of Bengal.

There is no doubt, however, that the Mussulman soldiers in our service and we had 70,000 from Oude alone-were fully prepared for the outbreak, and that in many instances they carried away the Hindus with them. It has all along been suspected that the mutinous feeling so prevalent in the Bengal army had its origin in the 34th N.I. The disbanded 19th Regiment openly and persistently accused the 34th of having planned and counselled the mutiny for which they suffered. Recent discoveries have proved that some of the native officers of this regiment have been in communication with nearly every native regiment in Bengal; and hence it is not surprising that the flame of revolt burst forth in the farthest corner of Bengal, and thence spread simultaneously through the whole of the presidency. On the 25th of April a court of inquiry was held at Meerut, the military station of Delhi, to investigate the conduct of the 3rd Cavalry, who had also refused to use the greased cartridges. Several of the mutineers were eventually put in chains, and sentenced to lengthened imprisonment. On the 10th of May the 3rd Cavalry broke out into open revolt, and being joined by the 20th N.I., proceeded to liberate the prisoners. On their return they displayed the Eastern ferocity by murdering every European, man, woman and child, whom they came near. Tired of their atrocities, they marched off the same evening to Delhi, and the signal for revolt was hoisted, which has


been only too faithfully obeyed. The government, in spite of the warnings it had so repeatedly received, was quite unprepared for the mutiny, for it appears by the last official returns of the East India Company that there were, at the outbreak of the revolt, 5249 British officers on the Indian establishment of the three presidencies, while the body of the European forces consisted of 43,149 warrant officers, non-commissioned officers, and rank and file. The native army, on the other hand, including the police, amounted to 288,596 of all ranks. To the latter must be added, according to the same official authorities, the standing armies maintained in time of peace, according to treaties, by the several independent native princes in alliance with the British government, 398,918. If we make allowance for officers on leave in England, and for other casualties, and, on the other hand, take into consideration the number of civilians at different stations, we may set down the number of 50,000 as a fair estimate of the Englishmen who were in India at the time of the outbreak. On the other hand, we see that 687,514 native soldiers of all grades were accounted for, a proportion of about one European to every fifteen natives. These are fearful odds, as the Englishmen were scattered over an area of more than a million square miles.

So soon as the insurgents had wreaked their vengeance on the defenceless Europeans in Delhi, they proceeded to strengthen their position. By arrivals of stragglers from all the mutinous regiments, and the disaffected from all parts of India, their number was soon raised to nearly 20,000. After appointing a subadhar of the 3rd Cavalry commander-in-chief, their first step was to proclaim the King of Delhi, or his son, King of India ; their second, to fortify themselves. They had ample means at their disposal for this purpose: a large siege-train and immense stores of powder, which had been so confidingly entrusted to the charge of three native regiments. On the 29th of May they sent out a strong party with five guns to guard the bridge over the little river Hindun. They entrenched themselves on the heights near the river with remarkable skill; but on the following day they were attacked by a portion of the European force from Meerut, and almost to a man shot down, their guns and position falling into our hands. The city of Delhi was admirably adapted for the stronghold of the mutineers, and the delay occasioned in its capture by the European troops will be accounted for by a perusal of the following extract from the Overland Mail:

It cannot be matter of surprise that the English public has received with impatience the intelligence of Delhi being still in the hands of the mutineers. That impatience has been greatly fostered by numerous letters in the leading journals of the day, in which the defences of Delhi are spoken of with contempt. Thus General Anson has been sharply censured for halting to bring up a siegetrain, and his successor, General Barnard, comes in for his share of blame for not carrying the city by storm. Now impatience is, perhaps, both natural and pardonable, but it is nevertheless unreasonable, as we shall endeavour to show. All readers of Indian history are aware that so long back as 1804, when the defences of Delhi were in a very imperfect and ruinous state, the city was successfully defended by a small force of native troops under Colonels Ochterlony and Burn against Holkar's army of 20,000 men, and 100 guns. No doubt the besieged showed as much spirit as the besiegers did cowardice and incapacity, but the fact remains, that a garrison of about 2000 Sepoys and Irregulars were able to defend Delhi against an army which had a few days previously destroyed Monson's force of five regular battalions, with artillery in proportion, and 3000





horse. After this siege, up to 1838, large sums, amounting to several lakhs of rupees, were spent by the British in improving the fortifications. In that year Lord Auckland visited Delhi, and, with the singular infelicity which seems to have attended all his counsels, recommended additional works. It is remark. able that the hostile feeling of the inhabitants did not escape his observation. In consequence of his views, further sums were expended in repairs and improvements which may be fairly regarded as rendering the city impregnable to a force unprovided with a siege-train. In particular, the eastern or river face, then the most assailable, was strengthened, the Wellesley bastion being entirely rebuilt, the glacis was raised, the ditch, which is fifty feet wide, cleared, martello towers erected, and each bastion (eleven in all) mounted with nine guns. The defences of Delhi, therefore, can no longer be styled contemptible, though, no doubt, they are not such as to afford a chance of holding out against a sufficient army with

proper batteries. As it is, the garrison probably exceeds the besieging force by two to one, even leaving out of account the armed inhabitants in å population of one hundred and fifty thousand, and who, in successive reports, have been, for many years past, noted as unfavourably disposed towards us. It is a significant fact that the garrison are able to encamp a force of three thousand men outside the Ajmere gate, probably in the mausoleum of Ghazi Khan, which lies contiguous, and have made repeated sorties with very large bodies of men. If they can do this, and man a wall which extends seven miles in circumference, their strength must be very considerable—at all events, much too large to allow of General Barnard hazarding a coup de main. It must be remembered, too, that the rains will greatly strengthen the position of the insurgents, by protecting the eastern face of the city with the deep and rapid current of the Jumna, filling the ditch and adding to the sufferings of the besiegers. It will be well, therefore, without indulging in any gloomy anticipations as to the result, to realise fully the difficulties our troops have to encounter, and so better appreciate the merit of their final triumph.

If we turn to the position of the besieged as regards water and supplies, we shall find that these are also more ample than has hitherto been assumed. The population of Delhi may be estimated at one hundred and eighty thousand ; and the influx of troops and people from the surrounding villages will probably have compensated for the losses in the late conflicts. There is but little fodder for horses, but considerable supplies of grain are kept up by native merchants. For a lengthened siege the supplies within the city will be insufficient, but some can be obtained from across the river, and from the villages near the Delhi Canal, which would be able to supply immense stores of corn and fodder. It is, however, more than probable that these sources have been by this time cut off by the besieging army. Although there are few wells in Delhi, they yield a fair supply. Though, generally speaking, brackish, some of the wells supply excellent water. Å new well of large dimensions was sunk in the winter of 1848. But the Delhi Canal is regarded as the chief source of water-supply. However, during severe drought, when all the water is required for irrigating purposes, Delhi is frequently left without water for twenty or thirty days in succession. The inhabitants then have recourse to their wells and the branch of the Jumna which flows past their walls. Were this supply cut off, water could still be procured by digging, or even scratching holes in the sand. The position of the old fort of Selim Ghur, with its bridge connecting it with the palace, is favourable for a cover to the water-carriers. Hence, if the canal be cut off, the inhabitants will experience no difficulty in procuring water. Flour is ground by the canal mills, and these have, of course, been stopped. All the women will, therefore, have to grind with their hand

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