« PreviousContinue »
To prevent Feroze Shah's doing Colonel Benson was accompanied by mischief, Brigadier Somerset (who Captain Hutchinson (assistant to the had arrived from Bombay to com- Governor-General's agent at Indore), mand a field force, and had assumed who supplied him with early and corcharge of Colonel Benson's column rect intelligence of the rebels' movewhile it was watching, the Bans- ments. He started that forenoon, and wara passes) received orders to take marched after them nearly due east two guns, D troop Horse-Artillery, at the rate of five-and-thirty miles and seventy Highlanders, and pro- a-day, till the 29th, when he came up ceed to Augur, where Major White, with them at Zeerapore, and captured with a squadron 17th Lancers and six elephants. During the rapid purwing of the 9th Native Infantry, had suit which had preceded, the few infanbeen despatched from Mhow to meet try and badly-mounted troopers who him.
remained with Tantia dropped off into When Tantia moved south from the villages and jungles ; those who Saloombur, Major Rocke also skirted adhered to his standard effected their the jungle, and took up Colonel Ben- escape from the British without much son's position of Purtabgurh, the lat- loss. It was absolutely necessary for ter officer placed himselt on the edge the small attacking force to keep well of the jungle twenty miles to the together, and make no rash charges south. On the 24th December, Brig. into the centre of their opponents. adier Parke, who had made a consid- The rebels, however, were to be erable detour to the westward, again pushed yet harder before they could got correct intelligence of the rebel's get any respite from their pursuers. dispositions. His orders from Gen. Brigadier Somerset arrived at Zeeraeral Michel were to keep up a constant pore the morning after the action. He pursuit wherever the rebels went, had two horse-artillery guns with him, while the other columns would be and taking the fresh horses out of his maneuvred so as to head them ammunition-waggons, attached them when practicable. Accordingly Parke, to Colonel Benson's two guns; and leaving his artillery, plunged into the the ammunition-waggons, with Benjungles from the westward, and the son's tired horses attached, remained rebels at four o'clock on the afternoon in his charge, while the four guns acof Christmas Day suddenly emerged companied Brigadier Somerset. Their on the other side opposite Major limbers alone contained quite enough Rocke at Pertabgurh. Major Rocke ammunition for an action with Tantia had not men enough to close the Topee. After marching seventy miles passes, of which there were two or in the next forty-eight hours, Brigathree.' He placed himself at Pertab- dier Somerset attacked the rebels at gurh because it was a central posi- Burrode. Some shells from the artil. tion about two miles from the jungle, lery killed a good many, during a whence he could march to any parti- stand which they made for a few cular point at which the rebels might minutes-after this they galloped off threaten to debouch, provided he had as usual. Somerset then
waited for sufficiently early intelligence of their his baggage to rejoin him, and was movements. But he had no notice ordered to Chuppra, where the Genof Tantia's approach until the rebel eral shortly expected to arrive. army appeared in the open, and The rebels were on Feroze Shah's marched straight upon his position- tracks, and effected a junction with the only occasion on which they de- him at Indergurh, on the west bank liberately assumed the offensive. His of the Chumbul.' Brigadier Smith, force did not consist of more than two whose brigade we have before adhundred infantry, two guns, and a few verted to as advancing on Rajgurh, native cavalry, and could merely had been very near when Somerset's remain on the defensive during an action was fought. He continued action which lasted without much the pursuit towards Indergurh with result. The rebels only wished to a force of infantry and cavalry, but keep him in play while their ele- did not overtake the rebels. phants, and what little baggage re- General Michel left Mhow in the mained to them, got clear of the pass. end of December to meet Somerset near Augur. He arrived just after cane field, and liquored up to the exBenson's action at Zeerapore, and tent of twenty or thirty gallons at a proceeded with his column instead muddy tank. In three weeks' time to Chuppra. Colonel Beecher, who, (during which he wandered at large) with one squadron 17th Lancers, two this disagreeable fit passed off, and horse-artillery guns D troop, and the driver, who had followed' him his own regiment of irregular cavalry, about, retook possession. had been moved up in that direction On hearing at Mhow that Tantia from the other side of the Nerbudda, had left the Banswara jungles, and was directed to join him there, and Oodeypore was no longer threatened, thus formed a strong column, com- the General had also sent directions prising the whole of the 17th Lancers, to Brigadier Honner commanding at Beecher’s Irregulars, the D troop Nusseerabad (who was already in the horse-artillery, and a hundred High- field with a column moving on Oodeylanders mounted on Barras's camels. pore) to march in a north-easterly
One of our elephants gave no little direction and watch the fords of the trouble the day General Michel ar- Chumbul, between Kotah and Inderrived at Augur. Some elephants are gurh. He reached Indergurh the subject to periodical fits of sexual day after Tantia and Feroze Shah left madness, or must, as the natives call it in a north-easterly direction. These it. In this state they attack what harassing pursuits had much diminever comes across them, whether man ished their army ; indeed, it is astonor beast, their own driver (between ishing how their horses had a leg to whom and his charge great mutual stand upon, or their riders the physiaffection generally exists) being often cal endurance to remain in the saddle. the first victim. The situation of Those who could find fresh horses in mahout or driver, however, is a favour- the villages bought or stole them, and ite one among natives, and there many a well-bred charger was left is never any difficulty in finding a standing by the roadside, its back fresh one to undertake that duty, swarming with maggots and its hoofs when the animal recovers. Your worn to the sensible sole. After their mahout is high up in the world, and junction with Feroze Shah, the whole looks down on camel-men or bullock- force did not muster more than two drivers with the contempt with which thousand men, whose only hope was a Hansom regards his four-wheeled to escape death by the sword or rivals. “He's been through the win- rope. ders of two chaney-shops since we Their next adventure was to fall have had him," says young Bailey, in with Brigadier Showers on the speaking of brother to Cauliflower, 15th January, near Dewassa.
He “and was sold for killing bis missis. had come down with a light column That's a horse, I hope." With simi- from Agra, and took their last two lar pride a mahout describes the elephants. After this they tried to homicidal propensities of the animal enter the town of Ulwur, capital of you are riding, as constituting him a Rajpoot state, but Lieutenant something like an elephant, and Impey, the political agent, held a grins expressively at the evident de. pass in front of the town with the sire to get down which such informa- Rajah's troops, who remained faithtion produces. At Augur, an ele- ful. phant on the march showed signs of General Michel's pursuing columns must, but the driver contrived to were soinewhat thrown out by the slip off his back. The brute first tremendous pace at which the rebels attacked a Highlander, and trampled rushed from the centre of Malwa to him to death. He then charged a the northern extremity of Rajpootana. baker's cart; the frightened bullocks Parke had crossed the Chumbul at rushed from the road, and tunbled Kotah, and was now moving up cart and all into a ditch. The ele- toward Ulwur. The General did phant did not hurt the bullocks, but not choose to get too far north, or ate up two hundred loaves in about wear out the strong column with five minutes. After this feat he which he hoped to strike a decisive made a luxurious dessert in a sugar- blow when opportunity presented.
Honner also, instead of following which separates Joodpore from Oodthe direct tracks, kept to the south eypore. They knew no column with of them, in case Joudhpore or Jyepore guns could follow them through were threatened.
these hills—a comforting reflection When Tantia Topee crossed the to men whose ears tingled at the Chumbul, Colonel Holmes, of the bare mention of British artillery. To 12th Native Infantry, was sent out be prepared for this contingency, from Nusseerabad with a few men of Brigadier Somerset was ordered, by H.M.'s 83d and 12th Native Infantry forced marches, to take up a position and four guns (native artillerymen), near and to the south of the Oodeyto save any towns which might be in pore side of the Chutterbhooj Pass, danger of being plundered, and do which is the principal road" across what he could in a general way. On the hills, but there are several smaller the night of January 21st the rebels pathways near it. were encamped at Seekur, when The General did not allow the Holmes, after marching the astound- pursuit to languish in the north ; he ing distance of fifty-four miles fixed his headquarters for a few days through a sandy desert in little more at Nusseerabad as a central position than twenty-four hours, completely from which to direct operations. surprised their camp, and threw it Brigadier Showers was ordered to into the greatest confusion by a few the north of the rebels, Parke to the rounds from his guns. They aban- west, and Honner to the south ; on doned a quantity of horses, camels, the east lay the great desert. Holmes, and arms, and afterwards spoke of who was moving about with his dethis as one of the most disastrous tachment inside this ring, forced the affairs in which they had been en- rebels to cross it somewhere. They gaged. The flat and sandy district chose the route which General Michel in the north of Rajpootana abounds had anticipated, shot past Honner's in excellent camels. Many of the right flank, and fled south through rebels, taking a hint from their pur- the Joodpore territory. Honner suers, exchanged their jaded horses overtook them on the 10th February for riding-camels, which accounts for at Kosanee, after a march of 145 the number of these animals captured miles in four days, killed upwards of on this occasion. Next day Tantia 200, and captured a number of Topee left the rebel camp, worn out camels. A curious incident occurred with fatigue ; accompanied by thirty on this occasion: Lieutenant Stourton or forty followers, he escaped to the of the 8th Hussars made desperate east of the Chumbul, and concealed efforts to cut down, or rather to cut himself in the jungles near Seronge. up, a rebel chief mounted on a swift A few days later, six hundred men Sandney camel, but his horse always surrendered to the Rajah of Bikaneer, swerved before bringing him within and requested his mediation on their sword's length. A sergeant of the behalf. The British Government 8th coming up, exclaimed, “Why were only too glad to be saved the don't you try him with your revolver, trouble of hunting them down, and sir ?" Stourton, who had forgotten desired they might all be sent to his revolver, took the hint, and their homes, with the single proviso brought down both man and camel that those who could be proved at the first discharge. On examinaguilty of deliberate murder might at tion, the ball was found to have any time be brought up for execu- passed through the rider's body into tion.
the back of the camel's head, killing General Michel apprehended that both outright. the rebels would reckon on having The Rao Sahib (who, since Tandrawn all his columns after them to tia's departure, himself assumed the the north, and then make a desperate charge of directing their strategical burst to the southern extremity of movements) reached the ChutterMalwa. This they were most likely bhooj Pass on the 15th. Brigadier to do by passing through the Jood- Somerset arrived within a few miles pore territory, and then turning to of it the same day. Most unfortutheir left across the Aravelli range, nately, he had no one with him who
knew the country; and a few precious Because operations were so long prohours had to be expended in the ne- tracted, Tantia was held up as a dexcessary reconnoitring, during which terous strategist, who could give the enemy threaded the pass. Their Generals Roberts and Michel a few joy at getting safe through was soon useful hints in the art of war. Those turned into mourning when they who look below the surface will find learned that a British column was nothing to bear out such a concluhovering in the neighbourhood. sion. Marshal Saxe has said that They had confidently believed all our the whole secret of war is in the columns to be behind them in the legs ; but he did not mean they were Joodpore territory, and were in de- always to be used for running away, spair at finding the sole result of which seems to have been the only their last frantic rush was to carry manner that Tantia had any idea of them close up to a fresh band of pur- employing them. He fled till he
The Rao made for his old was outmarched, and then sacrificed haunt in the Banswara jungles, but some guns and men on the spot where the General had already sent an ex- he was overtaken, only to escape with press order to close the passes with the remainder and be again outsmall infantry detachments from Nee- marched, and again driven from the much. Finding these defiles occupied, field. His soldiers could have done the rebels turned eastward, and as much without any leader at all. passed within a few miles of Pertab- With an immense cavalry force under gurh, where the action with Major his orders, he made no attempt to Rocke took place just seven weeks harass the pursuers on their line of before. They had made a circuit of march, to spread confusion among 900 miles in the interval.
their long train of baggage, or cut Brigadier Somerset marched 230 up the foragers around their camp. miles in nine days. He was close It never occurred to him that cavalry behind the rebels all the time ; and a who cannot stand the shock of battle majority of them fell out of the line may yet be turned to good account of march, threw aside their arms, and in irregular warfare. We may
indeed sneaked away towards their homes. be thankful to Providence that he The remainder made an offer of sur- did not try such tactics, for he had render, and 200 men (all Mussul- horsemen enough to have afforded mans from Cawnpore and Bareilly) us work in front, in rear, and on actually gave themselves up near both flanks ; and an Anglo-Indian Runnejah, on the 22d February 1859. army, with its numerous array of The chiefs, who did not come within camp-followers, is peculiarly susceptthe provisions of the general amnesty, ible to such demonstrations. were merely seeking a temporary These omissions of Tantia Topee's cessation of hostilities by these ad- materially lightened the burden of vances, and effected their escape into our own generals, yet still left them the Seronge jungles.
a most difficult task to accomplish. This was the end of these opera. They had to cover or overawe the tions. The Rao Sahib and Feroze most important towns in their divi. Shah, when they reached the jungles, sion, and endeavour to exterminate no longer sought safety in numbers the rebel army, which always far outas open enemies of the British Gov- numbered them, especially in cavalry. ernment, but sometimes disguised To drive the rebels from their posithemselves as religious mendicants, tions with infantry and artillery was and sometimes with a handful of easy enough, and in ordinary warfare men levied contributions of food from this constitutes a victory. the villages.
battle lost to the rebels was only sa During the pursuit of Tantia mang guns abandoned, or so many Topee, a portion of the Indian jour- men killed. They had no communinals were not slow to assume the pri- cation with a base of operations to vilege, so freely enjoyed by their con- preserve; no line of country to detemporaries in England, of abusing fend ; no strategical front, or flanks, the arrangements of our own generals, or rear. When hard pressed, they and praising those of our adversaries. only made a stand to let their trea
sure be carried off (many of the disposal towards the end of the chiefs thought their proper place campaign, collected a strong force was with the treasure on these occa- under Brigadier Somerset and desions),-and then got out of range of spatched it to the very point (a hunthe cannon and ritles as soon as they dred miles distant from his own could. The British cavalry followed, headquarters) through which the but were rarely sufficiently strong tó rebels passed, a few hours' unavoiddo much execution. At the Bunnas able delay lost the opportunity of General Roberts had five hundred winding up with a good coup de grace. cavalry (including three hundred Be- Although this column did not strike loochees on ponies). He was able to a blow with the sword, yet its apsend them right into the middle of pearance immediately after Honner's the retiring enemy, and great slaugh- hard chase finished the campaign. ter ensued. So also at General The chiefs could not persuade their Michel's actions of Sindwaho and disheartened soldiers to attempt a Khoraie. But at Sanganeer, at Raj- stand. It was sauve qui peut for ghur, at Mungrowlee, at Zeerapore, 250 miles, at the end of which 200 and at Barode, our handful of cavalry surrendered. Feroze Shah and the had to rest content with seeing their Rao Sahib, with 300 men and the enemies fly before them, and picking treasure, hid themselves in the Serup elephants, camels, or worn-out onge jungles; the remainder abanhorses, or killing a few stragglers. doned their standards during the To charge home, without any in- flight, threw away their arms, and fantry support to fall back upon, straggled homewards in twos and was certain destruction. It would threes, generally unmolested, though have let the rebels know their own the villagers sometimes relieved them strength when forced to a hand-to- of a few gold mohurs. hand action.
The rebels at first carried their treaGeneral Michel, by judiciously dis- sure on camels and elephants. When tributing his columns over the im- the silver was all spent, they put the mense district of which he had gold and jewels on horses, under a charge, always contrived to have a guard of picked men. It is probably force of some kind or another, either now buried in the jungles, and the infantry or cavalry, in tolerably close secret of its place of deposit may pursuit. This saved the important have been the cause of more than towns from plunder or mutiny, for one tragedy among men so habitually they would not admit the rebels distrustful of each other as Orientals. when a British force was near. The The whole distance for which they fugitives, moreover, got no rest, and were pursued, between the 20th it was the loss by stragglers in these June 1858 and 1st March 1859, was continued long marches which weak- more than 3000 miles. General ened and finally dissipated their Michel marched 1700, Parke 2000 army, quite as much as the casualties miles. Captain Clowe's troop, 8th in battle. An angler with a heavy Hussars, was with Parke all the time, salmon on his hook does not break and had marched 400 miles under the line by attempting to land him General Roberts before joining him. at once, but keeps up a constant When a column started in rapid strain till the fish gradually loses pursuit, the tents followed in charge its strength, and is led powerless to of a small guard, and often did not the bank. Tantia Topee’s followers come up for days, during which the were too numerous and too nimble troops had to shelter themselves unto be despatched at a blow; but der the forest trees from sun and when they had worn out one British rain. column, they generally found their Tantia Topee ultimately met with movements had been anticipated, the fate which he deserved. A and another was ready to take its Rajpoot chief, called Maun Sing, place, and the rebel hordes melted owned a considerable portion of the away under the ceaseless pressure. territory near Goonah conquered by It was unfortunate that when the the Mahrattas in the last century, General, having more troops at his and still ruled over by Sindiah. The