Britain

With an Account of the Mutiny at Ferozepore in 1857

by Charles John Griffiths

 

The ever memorable period in the history of our Eastern Empire known as the Great Indian Rebellion or Mutiny of the Bengal army was an epoch fraught with the most momentous consequences, and one which resulted in covering with undying fame those who bore part in its suppression. The passions aroused during the struggle, the fierce hate animating the breasts of the combatants, the deadly incidents of the strife, which without intermission lasted for nearly two years, and deluged with blood the plains and cities of Hindostan, have scarcely a parallel in history.

The actual Mutiny of the Bengal army broke out at Meerut on May 10, 1857. Events had happened in the Lower Provinces which foreshadowed the coming storm, and one regiment of native infantry had been disbanded; but no one, not even those in high authority, had the faintest suspicion that our rule in India was imperilled.

After the excitement of the late executions we were prepared to relapse into our usual state of inaction and monotony, when, on the morning of June 13, a courier arrived from Lahore, the headquarters of the Executive Government of the Punjab. He brought instructions and orders from Sir John Lawrence to the Brigadier commanding at Ferozepore to the effect that a wing of Her Majesty's 61st Regiment was to proceed at once to reinforce the army under Sir Henry Barnard, now besieging the city of Delhi.

A situation had already been marked out for our encampment, and, directed by an officer, we passed through the main portion of our lines, and halted at the bottom of the ridge on the extreme left of our position. Some time was occupied after the arrival of the baggage in pitching our camp; but when all was concluded, Vicars and I started on foot to take our first view of the imperial city.

The actual Siege of Delhi may be said to have commenced on September 7, 1857. All reinforcements that could possibly arrive had reached us with the siege-train, and the effective force now available for operations before Delhi consisted of the following troops:

The renown won by our troops in 1857 is now wellnigh forgotten, and, in fact, their deeds in that distant quarter of our Empire faded into oblivion within a very short period subsequent to the capture of Delhi. When the regiments engaged at that place came home to England after a long course of service in India, scarcely any notice was taken of their arrival.

The riches of the city of Delhi and the opulence of its Princes and merchants had been celebrated in Hindostan from time immemorial. For ages it had been the capital of an empire extending from the snows of the Himalayas to Cape Comorin; and to Delhi, as to a centre, gravitated the wealth of the richest country in the world. Fabulous reports had reached us of the booty carried away to distant regions by the numerous warriors who burst like a torrent over Hindostan, making that city the goal of their conquests and the scene of their predatory forays.

     "I think you need not trouble yourself about England. At this 
     moment opinion seems to have undergone a complete change, and 
     our people and indeed our Government is more moderately 
     disposed than I have ever before known it to be. I hear from 

In 1862, less than a year after he had assumed his post in London, the American Minister, Charles Francis Adams, at a time of depression and bitterness wrote to Secretary of State Seward: "That Great Britain did, in the most terrible moment of our domestic trial in struggling with a monstrous social evil she had earnestly professed to abhor, coldly and at once assume our inability to master it, and then become the only foreign nation steadily contributing in every indirect way possible to verify its judgment, will probably be the verdict made against her by posterity, on calm comparison of

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