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    Chapter 58

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    Chapter 59
    Previous Chapter
    Make it a point to do something every day that you don't want to do.
    This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty
    without pain.
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    It seems to be settled, now, that among the many causes from which the
    Great Mutiny sprang, the main one was the annexation of the kingdom of
    Oudh by the East India Company--characterized by Sir Henry Lawrence as
    "the most unrighteous act that was ever committed." In the spring of
    1857, a mutinous spirit was observable in many of the native garrisons,
    and it grew day by day and spread wider and wider. The younger military
    men saw something very serious in it, and would have liked to take hold
    of it vigorously and stamp it out promptly; but they were not in
    authority. Old-men were in the high places of the army--men who should
    have been retired long before, because of their great age--and they
    regarded the matter as a thing of no consequence. They loved their
    native soldiers, and would not believe that anything could move them to
    revolt. Everywhere these obstinate veterans listened serenely to the
    rumbling of the volcanoes under them, and said it was nothing.

    And so the propagators of mutiny had everything their own way. They
    moved from camp to camp undisturbed, and painted to the native soldier
    the wrongs his people were suffering at the hands of the English, and
    made his heart burn for revenge. They were able to point to two facts of
    formidable value as backers of their persuasions: In Clive's day, native
    armies were incoherent mobs, and without effective arms; therefore, they
    were weak against Clive's organized handful of well-armed men, but the
    thing was the other way, now. The British forces were native; they had
    been trained by the British, organized by the British, armed by the
    British, all the power was in their hands--they were a club made by
    British hands to beat out British brains with. There was nothing to
    oppose their mass, nothing but a few weak battalions of British soldiers
    scattered about India, a force not worth speaking of. This argument,
    taken alone, might not have succeeded, for the bravest and best Indian
    troops had a wholesome dread of the white soldier, whether he was weak or
    strong; but the agitators backed it with their second and best point
    prophecy--a prophecy a hundred years old. The Indian is open to prophecy
    at all times; argument may fail to convince him, but not prophecy. There
    was a prophecy that a hundred years from the year of that battle of
    Clive's which founded the British Indian Empire, the British power would
    be overthrown and swept away by the natives.

    The Mutiny broke out at Meerut on the 10th of May, 1857, and fired a
    train of tremendous historical explosions. Nana Sahib's massacre of the
    surrendered garrison of Cawnpore occurred in June, and the long siege of
    Lucknow began. The military history of England is old and great, but I
    think it must be granted that the crushing of the Mutiny is the greatest
    chapter in it. The British were caught asleep and unprepared. They were
    a few thousands, swallowed up in an ocean of hostile populations. It
    would take months to inform England and get help, but they did not falter
    or stop to count the odds, but with English resolution and English
    devotion they took up their task, and went stubbornly on with it, through
    good fortune and bad, and fought the most unpromising fight that one may
    read of in fiction or out of it, and won it thoroughly.

    The Mutiny broke out so suddenly, and spread with such rapidity that
    there was but little time for occupants of weak outlying stations to
    escape to places of safety. Attempts were made, of course, but they were
    attended by hardships as bitter as death in the few cases which were
    successful; for the heat ranged between 120 and 138 in the shade; the way
    led through hostile peoples, and food and water were hardly to be had.
    For ladies and children accustomed to ease and comfort and plenty, such a
    journey must have been a cruel experience. Sir G. O. Trevelyan quotes
    an example:

    "This is what befell Mrs. M----, the wife of the surgeon at a
    certain station on the southern confines of the insurrection. 'I
    heard,' she says, 'a number of shots fired, and, looking out, I saw
    my husband driving furiously from the mess-house, waving his whip.
    I ran to him, and, seeing a bearer with my child in his arms, I
    caught her up, and got into the buggy. At the mess-house we found
    all the officers assembled, together with sixty sepoys, who had
    remained faithful. We went off in one large party, amidst a general
    conflagration of our late homes. We reached the caravanserai at
    Chattapore the next morning, and thence started for Callinger. At
    this point our sepoy escort deserted us. We were fired upon by
    match-lockmen, and one officer was shot dead. We heard, likewise,
    that the people had risen at Callinger, so we returned and walked
    back ten miles that day. M---- and I carried the child alternately.
    Presently Mrs. Smalley died of sunstroke. We had no food amongst
    us. An officer kindly lent us a horse. We were very faint. The
    Major died, and was buried; also the Sergeant-major and some women.
    The bandsmen left us on the nineteenth of June. We were fired at
    again by match-lockmen, and changed direction for Allahabad. Our
    party consisted of nine gentlemen, two children, the sergeant and
    his wife. On the morning of the twentieth, Captain Scott took
    Lottie on to his horse. I was riding behind my husband, and she was
    so crushed between us. She was two years old on the first of the
    month. We were both weak through want of food and the effect of the
    sun. Lottie and I had no head covering. M---- had a sepoy's cap I
    found on the ground. Soon after sunrise we were followed by
    villagers armed with clubs and spears. One of them struck Captain
    Scott's horse on the leg. He galloped off with Lottie, and my poor
    husband never saw his child again. We rode on several miles,
    keeping away from villages, and then crossed the river. Our thirst
    was extreme. M---- had dreadful cramps, so that I had to hold him
    on the horse. I was very uneasy about him. The day before I saw
    the drummer's wife eating chupatties, and asked her to give a piece
    to the child, which she did. I now saw water in a ravine. The
    descent was steep, and our only drinkingvessel was M----'s cap. Our
    horse got water, and I bathed my neck. I had no stockings, and my
    feet were torn and blistered. Two peasants came in sight, and we
    were frightened and rode off. The sergeant held our horse, and
    M---- put me up and mounted. I think he must have got suddenly faint,
    for I fell and he over me, on the road, when the horse started off.
    Some time before he said, and Barber, too, that he could not live
    many hours. I felt he was dying before we came to the ravine. He
    told me his wishes about his children and myself, and took leave.
    My brain seemed burnt up. No tears came. As soon as we fell, the
    sergeant let go the horse, and it went off; so that escape was cut
    off. We sat down on the ground waiting for death. Poor fellow! he
    was very weak; his thirst was frightful, and I went to get him
    water. Some villagers came, and took my rupees and watch. I took
    off my wedding-ring, and twisted it in my hair, and replaced the
    guard. I tore off the skirt of my dress to bring water in, but was
    no use, for when I returned my beloved's eyes were fixed, and,
    though I called and tried to restore him, and poured water into his
    mouth, it only rattled in his throat. He never spoke to me again.
    I held him in my arms till he sank gradually down. I felt frantic,
    but could not cry. I was alone. I bound his head and face in my
    dress, for there was no earth to buy him. The pain in my hands and
    feet was dreadful. I went down to the ravine, and sat in the water
    on a stone, hoping to get off at night and look for Lottie. When I
    came back from the water, I saw that they had not taken her little
    watch, chain, and seals, so I tied them under my petticoat. In an
    hour, about thirty villagers came, they dragged me out of the
    ravine, and took off my jacket, and found the little chain. They
    then dragged me to a village, mocking me all the way, and disputing
    as to whom I was to belong to. The whole population came to look at
    me. I asked for a bedstead, and lay down outside the door of a hut.
    They had a dozen of cows, and yet refused me milk. When night came,
    and the village was quiet, some old woman brought me a leafful of
    rice. I was too parched to eat, and they gave me water. The
    morning after a neighboring Rajah sent a palanquin and a horseman to
    fetch me, who told me that a little child and three Sahibs had come
    to his master's house. And so the poor mother found her lost one,
    'greatly blistered,' poor little creature. It is not for Europeans
    in India to pray that their flight be not in the winter."

    In the first days of June the aged general, Sir Hugh Wheeler commanding
    the forces at Cawnpore, was deserted by his native troops; then he moved
    out of the fort and into an exposed patch of open flat ground and built a
    four-foot mud wall around it. He had with him a few hundred white
    soldiers and officers, and apparently more women and children than
    soldiers. He was short of provisions, short of arms, short of
    ammunition, short of military wisdom, short of everything but courage and
    devotion to duty. The defense of that open lot through twenty-one days
    and nights of hunger, thirst, Indian heat, and a never-ceasing storm of
    bullets, bombs, and cannon-balls--a defense conducted, not by the aged
    and infirm general, but by a young officer named Moore--is one of the
    most heroic episodes in history. When at last the Nana found it
    impossible to conquer these starving men and women with powder and ball,
    he resorted to treachery, and that succeeded. He agreed to supply them
    with food and send them to Allahabad in boats. Their mud wall and their
    barracks were in ruins, their provisions were at the point of exhaustion,
    they had done all that the brave could do, they had conquered an
    honorable compromise,--their forces had been fearfully reduced by
    casualties and by disease, they were not able to continue the contest
    longer. They came forth helpless but suspecting no treachery, the Nana's
    host closed around them, and at a signal from a trumpet the massacre
    began. About two hundred women and children were spared--for the
    present--but all the men except three or four were killed. Among the
    incidents of the massacre quoted by Sir G. O. Trevelyan, is this:

    "When, after the lapse of some twenty minutes, the dead began to
    outnumber the living;--when the fire slackened, as the marks grew
    few and far between; then the troopers who had been drawn up to the
    right of the temple plunged into the river, sabre between teeth, and
    pistol in hand. Thereupon two half-caste Christian women, the wives
    of musicians in the band of the Fifty-sixth, witnessed a scene which
    should not be related at second-hand. 'In the boat where I was to
    have gone,' says Mrs. Bradshaw, confirmed throughout by Mrs. Betts,
    'was the school-mistress and twenty-two misses. General Wheeler
    came last in a palkee. They carried him into the water near the
    boat. I stood close by. He said, 'Carry me a little further
    towards the boat.' But a trooper said, 'No, get out here.' As the
    General got out of the palkee, head-foremost, the trooper gave him a
    cut with his sword into the neck, and he fell into the water. My
    son was killed near him. I saw it; alas! alas! Some were stabbed
    with bayonets; others cut down. Little infants were torn in pieces.
    We saw it; we did; and tell you only what we saw. Other children
    were stabbed and thrown into the river. The schoolgirls were burnt
    to death. I saw their clothes and hair catch fire. In the water, a
    few paces off, by the next boat, we saw the youngest daughter of
    Colonel Williams. A sepoy was going to kill her with his bayonet.
    She said, 'My father was always kind to sepoys.' He turned away,
    and just then a villager struck her on the head with a club, and she
    fell into the water. These people likewise saw good Mr. Moncrieff,
    the clergyman, take a book from his pocket that he never had leisure
    to open, and heard him commence a prayer for mercy which he was not
    permitted to conclude. Another deponent observed an European making
    for a drain like a scared water-rat, when some boatmen, armed with
    cudgels, cut off his retreat, and beat him down dead into the mud."

    The women and children who had been reserved from the massacre were
    imprisoned during a fortnight in a small building, one story high--a
    cramped place, a slightly modified Black Hole of Calcutta. They were
    waiting in suspense; there was none who could foretaste their fate.
    Meantime the news of the massacre had traveled far and an army of
    rescuers with Havelock at its head was on its way--at least an army which
    hoped to be rescuers. It was crossing the country by forced marches, and
    strewing its way with its own dead men struck down by cholera, and by a
    heat which reached 135 deg. It was in a vengeful fury, and it stopped
    for nothing neither heat, nor fatigue, nor disease, nor human opposition.
    It tore its impetuous way through hostile forces, winning victory after
    victory, but still striding on and on, not halting to count results. And
    at last, after this extraordinary march, it arrived before the walls of
    Cawnpore, met the Nana's massed strength, delivered a crushing defeat,
    and entered.

    But too late--only a few hours too late. For at the last moment the Nana
    had decided upon the massacre of the captive women and children, and had
    commissioned three Mohammedans and two Hindoos to do the work. Sir G.
    O. Trevelyan says:

    "Thereupon the five men entered. It was the short gloaming of
    Hindostan--the hour when ladies take their evening drive. She who
    had accosted the officer was standing in the doorway. With her were
    the native doctor and two Hindoo menials. That much of the business
    might be seen from the veranda, but all else was concealed amidst
    the interior gloom. Shrieks and scuffing acquainted those without
    that the journeymen were earning their hire. Survur Khan soon
    emerged with his sword broken off at the hilt. He procured another
    from the Nana's house, and a few minutes after appeared again on the
    same errand. The third blade was of better temper; or perhaps the
    thick of the work was already over. By the time darkness had closed
    in, the men came forth and locked up the house for the night. Then
    the screams ceased, but the groans lasted till morning.

    "The sun rose as usual. When he had been up nearly three hours the
    five repaired to the scene of their labors over night. They were
    attended by a few sweepers, who proceeded to transfer the contents
    of the house to a dry well situated behind some trees which grew
    hard by. 'The bodies,' says one who was present throughout, 'were
    dragged out, most of them by the hair of the head. Those who had
    clothing worth taking were stripped. Some of the women were alive.
    I cannot say how many; but three could speak. They prayed for the
    sake of God that an end might be put to their sufferings. I
    remarked one very stout woman, a half-caste, who was severely
    wounded in both arms, who entreated to be killed. She and two or
    three others were placed against the bank of the cut by which
    bullocks go down in drawing water. The dead were first thrown in.
    Yes: there was a great crowd looking on; they were standing along
    the walls of the compound. They were principally city people and
    villagers. Yes: there were also sepoys. Three boys were alive.
    They were fair children. The eldest, I think, must have been six or
    seven, and the youngest five years. They were running around the
    well (where else could they go to?), and there was none to save
    them. No one said a word or tried to save them.'

    "At length the smallest of them made an infantile attempt to get
    away. The little thing had been frightened past bearing by the
    murder of one of the surviving ladies. He thus attracted the
    observation of a native who flung him and his companions down the

    The soldiers had made a march of eighteen days, almost without rest, to
    save the women and the children, and now they were too late--all were
    dead and the assassin had flown. What happened then, Trevelyan hesitated
    to put into words. "Of what took place, the less said is the better."

    Then he continues:

    "But there was a spectacle to witness which might excuse much.
    Those who, straight from the contested field, wandered sobbing
    through the rooms of the ladies' house, saw what it were well could
    the outraged earth have straightway hidden. The inner apartment was
    ankle-deep in blood. The plaster was scored with sword-cuts; not
    high up as where men have fought, but low down, and about the
    corners, as if a creature had crouched to avoid the blow. Strips of
    dresses, vainly tied around the handles of the doors, signified the
    contrivance to which feminine despair had resorted as a means of
    keeping out the murderers. Broken combs were there, and the frills
    of children's trousers, and torn cuffs and pinafores, and little
    round hats, and one or two shoes with burst latchets, and one or two
    daguerreotype cases with cracked glasses. An officer picked up a
    few curls, preserved in a bit of cardboard, and marked 'Ned's hair,
    with love'; but around were strewn locks, some near a yard in
    length, dissevered, not as a keepsake, by quite other scissors."

    The battle of Waterloo was fought on the 18th of June, 1815. I do not
    state this fact as a reminder to the reader, but as news to him. For a
    forgotten fact is news when it comes again. Writers of books have the
    fashion of whizzing by vast and renowned historical events with the
    remark, "The details of this tremendous episode are too familiar to the
    reader to need repeating here." They know that that is not true. It is
    a low kind of flattery. They know that the reader has forgotten every
    detail of it, and that nothing of the tremendous event is left in his
    mind but a vague and formless luminous smudge. Aside from the desire to
    flatter the reader, they have another reason for making the remark-two
    reasons, indeed. They do not remember the details themselves, and do not
    want the trouble of hunting them up and copying them out; also, they are
    afraid that if they search them out and print them they will be scoffed
    at by the book-reviewers for retelling those worn old things which are
    familiar to everybody. They should not mind the reviewer's jeer; he
    doesn't remember any of the worn old things until the book which he is
    reviewing has retold them to him.

    I have made the quoted remark myself, at one time and another, but I was
    not doing it to flatter the reader; I was merely doing it to save work.
    If I had known the details without brushing up, I would have put them in;
    but I didn't, and I did not want the labor of posting myself; so I said,
    "The details of this tremendous episode are too familiar to the reader to
    need repeating here." I do not like that kind of a lie; still, it does
    save work.

    I am not trying to get out of repeating the details of the Siege of
    Lucknow in fear of the reviewer; I am not leaving them out in fear that
    they would not interest the reader; I am leaving them out partly to save
    work; mainly for lack of room. It is a pity, too; for there is not a
    dull place anywhere in the great story.

    Ten days before the outbreak (May 10th) of the Mutiny, all was serene at
    Lucknow, the huge capital of Oudh, the kingdom which had recently been
    seized by the India Company. There was a great garrison, composed of
    about 7,000 native troops and between 700 and 800 whites. These white
    soldiers and their families were probably the only people of their race
    there; at their elbow was that swarming population of warlike natives, a
    race of born soldiers, brave, daring, and fond of fighting. On high
    ground just outside the city stood the palace of that great personage,
    the Resident, the representative of British power and authority. It
    stood in the midst of spacious grounds, with its due complement of
    outbuildings, and the grounds were enclosed by a wall--a wall not for
    defense, but for privacy. The mutinous spirit was in the air, but the
    whites were not afraid, and did not feel much troubled.

    Then came the outbreak at Meerut, then the capture of Delhi by the
    mutineers; in June came the three-weeks leaguer of Sir Hugh Wheeler in
    his open lot at Cawnpore--40 miles distant from Lucknow--then the
    treacherous massacre of that gallant little garrison; and now the great
    revolt was in full flower, and the comfortable condition of things at
    Lucknow was instantly changed.

    There was an outbreak there, and Sir Henry Lawrence marched out of the
    Residency on the 30th of June to put it down, but was defeated with heavy
    loss, and had difficulty in getting back again. That night the memorable
    siege of the Residency--called the siege of Lucknow--began. Sir Henry
    was killed three days later, and Brigadier Inglis succeeded him in

    Outside of the Residency fence was an immense host of hostile and
    confident native besiegers; inside it were 480 loyal native soldiers, 730
    white ones, and 500 women and children.

    In those days the English garrisons always managed to hamper themselves
    sufficiently with women and children.

    The natives established themselves in houses close at hand and began to
    rain bullets and cannon-balls into the Residency; and this they kept up,
    night and day, during four months and a half, the little garrison
    industriously replying all the time. The women and children soon became
    so used to the roar of the guns that it ceased to disturb their sleep.
    The children imitated siege and defense in their play. The women--with
    any pretext, or with none--would sally out into the storm-swept grounds.
    The defense was kept up week after week, with stubborn fortitude, in the
    midst of death, which came in many forms--by bullet, small-pox, cholera,
    and by various diseases induced by unpalatable and insufficient food, by
    the long hours of wearying and exhausting overwork in the daily and
    nightly battle in the oppressive Indian heat, and by the broken rest
    caused by the intolerable pest of mosquitoes, flies, mice, rats, and

    Six weeks after the beginning of the siege more than one-half of the
    original force of white soldiers was dead, and close upon three-fifths of
    the original native force.

    But the fighting went on just the same. The enemy mined, the English
    counter-mined, and, turn about, they blew up each other's posts. The
    Residency grounds were honey-combed with the enemy's tunnels. Deadly
    courtesies were constantly exchanged--sorties by the English in the
    night; rushes by the enemy in the night--rushes whose purpose was to
    breach the walls or scale them; rushes which cost heavily, and always

    The ladies got used to all the horrors of war--the shrieks of mutilated
    men, the sight of blood and death. Lady Inglis makes this mention in her

    "Mrs. Bruere's nurse was carried past our door to-day, wounded in
    the eye. To extract the bullet it was found necessary to take out
    the eye--a fearful operation. Her mistress held her while it was

    The first relieving force failed to relieve. It was under Havelock and
    Outram; and arrived when the siege had been going on for three months.
    It fought its desperate way to Lucknow, then fought its way through the
    city against odds of a hundred to one, and entered the Residency; but
    there was not enough left of it, then, to do any good. It lost more men
    in its last fight than it found in the Residency when it got in. It
    became captive itself.

    The fighting and starving and dying by bullets and disease went steadily
    on. Both sides fought with energy and industry. Captain Birch puts this
    striking incident in evidence. He is speaking of the third month of the

    "As an instance of the heavy firing brought to bear on our position
    this month may be mentioned the cutting down of the upper story of a
    brick building simply by musketry firring. This building was in a
    most exposed position. All the shots which just missed the top of
    the rampart cut into the dead wall pretty much in a straight line,
    and at length cut right through and brought the upper story tumbling
    down. The upper structure on the top of the brigade-mess also fell
    in. The Residency house was a wreck. Captain Anderson's post had
    long ago been knocked down, and Innes' post also fell in. These two
    were riddled with round shot. As many as 200 were picked up by
    Colonel Masters."

    The exhausted garrison fought doggedly on all through the next month
    October. Then, November 2d, news came Sir Colin Campbell's relieving
    force would soon be on its way from Cawnpore.

    On the 12th the boom of his guns was heard.

    On the 13th the sounds came nearer--he was slowly, but steadily, cutting
    his way through, storming one stronghold after another.

    On the 14th he captured the Martiniere College, and ran up the British
    flag there. It was seen from the Residency.

    Next he took the Dilkoosha.

    On the 17th he took the former mess-house of the 32d regiment--a
    fortified building, and very strong. "A most exciting, anxious day,"
    writes Lady Inglis in her diary. "About 4 P.M., two strange officers
    walked through our yard, leading their horses"--and by that sign she knew
    that communication was established between the forces, that the relief
    was real, this time, and that the long siege of Lucknow was ended.

    The last eight or ten miles of Sir Colin Campbell's march was through
    seas of, blood. The weapon mainly used was the bayonet, the fighting was
    desperate. The way was mile-stoned with detached strong buildings of
    stone, fortified, and heavily garrisoned, and these had to be taken by
    assault. Neither side asked for quarter, and neither gave it. At the
    Secundrabagh, where nearly two thousand of the enemy occupied a great
    stone house in a garden, the work of slaughter was continued until every
    man was killed. That is a sample of the character of that devastating

    There were but few trees in the plain at that time, and from the
    Residency the progress of the march, step by step, victory by victory,
    could be noted; the ascending clouds of battle-smoke marked the way to
    the eye, and the thunder of the guns marked it to the ear.

    Sir Colin Campbell had not come to Lucknow to hold it, but to save the
    occupants of the Residency, and bring them away. Four or five days after
    his arrival the secret evacuation by the troops took place, in the middle
    of a dark night, by the principal gate, (the Bailie Guard). The two
    hundred women and two hundred and fifty children had been previously
    removed. Captain Birch says:

    "And now commenced a movement of the most perfect arrangement and
    successful generalship--the withdrawal of the whole of the various
    forces, a combined movement requiring the greatest care and skill.
    First, the garrison in immediate contact with the enemy at the
    furthest extremity of the Residency position was marched out. Every
    other garrison in turn fell in behind it, and so passed out through
    the Bailie Guard gate, till the whole of our position was evacuated.
    Then Havelock's force was similarly withdrawn, post by post,
    marching in rear of our garrison. After them in turn came the
    forces of the Commander-in-Chief, which joined on in the rear of
    Havelock's force. Regiment by regiment was withdrawn with--the
    utmost order and regularity. The whole operation resembled the
    movement of a telescope. Stern silence was kept, and the enemy took
    no alarm."

    Lady Inglis, referring to her husband and to General Sir James Outram,
    sets down the closing detail of this impressive midnight retreat, in
    darkness and by stealth, of this shadowy host through the gate which it
    had defended so long and so well:

    "At twelve precisely they marched out, John and Sir James Outram
    remaining till all had passed, and then they took off their hats to
    the Bailie Guard, the scene of as noble a defense as I think history
    will ever have to relate."
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