In Times of Peril
G. A. Henty
Part 3 out of 6
astonished when their captors, whom the moonlight now showed to be white,
instead of cutting their throats as they expected, lifted them tenderly
and carefully from the wagons, and laid them down on a bank a short
"Swear by the Prophet not to call for aid, or to speak, should any one
pass the road, for one hour!" was the oath administered to each, and all
who were still conscious swore to observe it. Then with the empty wagons
the troops proceeded on their way. At the last clump of trees, a quarter
of a mile from the castle, there was another halt. The troop dismounted,
led their horses some little distance from the road, and tied them to the
trees. Twenty men remained as a guard. Four of the others wrapped
themselves up so as to appear at a short distance like natives, and took
their places at the bullocks' heads, and the rest crowded into the wagons,
covering themselves with their cloaks to hide their light uniforms. Then
the bullocks were again set in motion across the plain. So careless were
the garrison that they were not even challenged as they approached the
gate of the outworks, and without a question the gate swung back.
"More wounded!" the officer on guard said. "This is the third lot. Those
children of Sheitan must have been aided by their father. Ah, treachery!"
he cried, as, the first cart moving into the moonlight beyond the shadow
of the gateway, he saw the white faces of the supposed wounded.
There was a leap from the nearest driver upon him, and he was felled to
the ground. But the man at the open gate had heard the cry, and drew a
pistol and fired it before he could be reached. Then the British leaped
from the carts, and twenty of them scattered through the works, cutting
down those who offered resistance and disarming the rest. These were
huddled into the guardroom, and five men with cocked revolvers placed at
the door, with orders to shoot them down at the first sign of movement.
The garrison in the castle itself had been alarmed by the shots; and
shouts were heard, and loud orders, and the sentries over the gate
discharged their muskets. There was little time given them to rally,
however; for Captain Kent, with four of his men, had, on leaping from the
cart, made straight across the drawbridge over the moat, for the gateway,
to which they attached the petards which they had brought with them. Then
they ran back to the main body, who stood awaiting the explosion. In a few
seconds it came, and then with a cheer the troops dashed across the
drawbridge, and in through the splintered gate. There was scarcely any
resistance. Taken utterly by surprise, and being numerically inferior to
their assailants--for nearly all the fighting men had gone out with their
lord--the frightened retainers tried to hide themselves rather than to
resist, and were speedily disarmed and gathered in the courtyard.
Major Warrener, informed by the bullock drivers of the quarter in which
the Europeans were confined, followed by a dozen men, made his way
straight to it, and had the delight of being greeted by the voices of his
countrymen and women. These were, as reported, three officers and five
ladies, all of whom were absolutely bewildered by the surprise and
suddenness of their rescue.
There was no time for explanation. The stables were ransacked and eight of
the rajah's best horses taken. Then, when all was ready for starting,
Major Warrener proceeded to the door of the women's apartments. Here, in
obedience to the order he had sent her, the wife of the talookdar, veiled
from head to foot, and surrounded by her attendants, stood to await the
orders of her captor.
"Madam," said Captain Wilkins, who spoke the dialect in use in Oude,
"Major Warrener, the British officer in command, bids me tell you that
this castle, with you and all that it contains, are in his power, and that
he might give it to the flames and carry you off as hostage. But he will
not do this. The Rajah of Bithri is a brave man, but he is wrong to fight
against fate. The English Raj will prevail again, and all who have
rebelled will be punished. We treat him as a brave but mistaken enemy; and
as we have spared his castle and his family, so we hope that he in turn
will behave kindly to any Englishman or woman who may fall into his hands
or may ask his aid. Lastly, let no one leave this castle till daybreak,
for whoever does so we will slay without mercy."
Then, turning round again, Warrener and his companions returned to the
courtyard. The moment the castle was entered and opposition quelled, half
the troops had run back for the horses, and in twenty minutes from the
arrival of the bullock-carts at the gateway of Bithri the last of its
captors filed out from its walls and trotted off into the darkness. Day
broke before any of the inhabitants of Bithri dared issue from its walls.
Then a horseman took the news on to the camp. The artillery, increased now
to thirty-six guns, had already opened upon the village ere he reached the
great tent on the plain. The rajah could not credit the intelligence that
the enemy had escaped, that his castle had been attacked and carried, and
the white prisoners released; but his surprise and fury were overpowered
by the delight he felt at the news that his women and children were safe
and his ancestral dwelling uninjured. "The English are a great people," he
said, stroking his beard; then, issuing from his tent, he told the news.
Like wildfire it ran through the camp, and as none of the thousands
gathered there had his feelings of gratitude and relief to soften their
anger and disappointment, the fury of the multitude was unbounded.
With a wild rush they made for the gate-almost blocked with their dead-
scoured the little village, and soon discovered the hole through which the
besieged had escaped. Then with wild yells three thousand horsemen set off
in pursuit; but it was six o'clock now, and the fugitives had got seven
hours' start. The Rajah of Bithri's contingent took no part in the
pursuit. On issuing from his tent he had, after telling the news, briefly
given orders for his tents to be struck and for all his troops to return
at once to the castle, toward which he himself, accompanied by his
bodyguard, set out on his elephant of state.
Major Warrener and his troops had no fear of pursuit. New foes might be
met; but with horses fresh and in good condition, and six hours' start--
for they were confident that no pursuit could commence before daybreak at
the earliest--they felt safe, from the enemy who had just attacked them,
especially as these could not know the direction which they were pursuing,
and would believe that their aim would be to return with their rescued
friends to Delhi, instead of proceeding through the heart of Oude. The
party whom they had found at Bithri consisted of Mr. Hartford, a deputy
commissioner, with his wife and two daughters; of a Mrs. Pearson and her
sister, the former the wife of a district magistrate, who had been absent
on duty when the rising at the little station at which they lived took
place; and of Captain Harper and Lieutenant Jones, who were the officers
of the detachment there. The men, native cavalry, had ridden off without
injuring their officers, but the fanatical people of the place had killed
many of the residents and fired their bungalows. Some had escaped on
horseback or in carriages; and the present party, keeping together, had,
when near Bithri, been seized and brought in to the chief, who intended to
take them with him to Lucknow, when--an event of which he daily expected
news--the little body of English there were destroyed by the forces
gathering round them. The captives had heard what was doing, both at
Lucknow and Cawnpore. At the latter place not only had the native troops
mutinied, but the Rajah of Bithoor, Nana Sahib, whom the English had
regarded as a firm friend, had joined them. Sir Hugh Wheeler, with the
officers of the revolted regiments the civilians of the station, and forty
or fifty white troops, having some eight hundred women and children in
their charge, were defending a weak position against thousands of the
enemy, provided with artillery.
When after riding thirty miles, the party stopped at daybreak at a ruined
temple standing in its grove at a distance from the main road, Major
Warrener called his officers into council, to determine what was the best
course to adopt under the circumstances. Should they dash through the
lines of the besiegers of Cawnpore, or should they make for Agra, or
endeavor to join the force which was being collected at Allahabad to march
to their relief?
Finally, and very reluctantly, the latter course was decided upon. It was
agreed--and the truth of their conclusion was proved by the fact that
throughout the mutiny there was no single instance of the rebels, however
numerous, carrying a position held by any body of Englishmen--that Sir
Hugh Wheeler and his force could probably hold the intrenchments against
any assault that the enemy could make, and that if forced to surrender it
would probably be from want of supplies. In that case the arrival of a
hundred men would be a source of weakness rather than of strength. The
reinforcement would not be of sufficient strength to enable the garrison,
incumbered as it was with women and children, to cut its way out, while
there would be a hundred more mouths to fill. It was therefore resolved to
change their course, to avoid Cawnpore, and to make direct for Allahabad,
with the news of the urgent strait in which Sir Hugh Wheeler was placed,
and of the necessity for an instant advance to his relief.
Cawnpore was now but forty miles away, and Lucknow was about the same
distance, but in a different direction; and as they stretched themselves
on the ground and prepared for sleep, they could distinctly hear the dull,
faint sounds that told of a heavy artillery fire. At which of the
stations, or if at both, the firing was going on, they could not tell; but
in fact it was at Cawnpore, as this was the 25th of June, and the siege of
the Lucknow Residency did not begin in earnest until the 30th of that
The course had now to be decided upon, and maps were consulted, and it was
determined to cross the river at Sirapore. It was agreed, too, that they
should, at the first village they passed through that evening, question
the inhabitants as to the bodies of rebels moving about, and find out
whether any large number were stationed at any of the bridges.
At nine o'clock in the evening they were again in the saddle, and an hour
later halted at a village. There several of the men were examined
separately, and their stories agreed that there were no large bodies of
Sepoys on the line by which they proposed to travel, but that most of the
talookdars were preparing to march to Lucknow and Cawnpore, when the
British were destroyed. Having thus learned that the bridge by which they
intended to cross was open to them, the troop again proceeded on their
way, leaving the village lost in astonishment as to where this body of
British horse could have come from.
Upon this night's ride Ned and Dick Warrener were on rearguard--that is to
say, they rode together some two hundred yards behind the rest of the
An hour after leaving the village, as they were passing through a thick
grove of trees some figures rose as from the ground. Ned was knocked off
his horse by a blow with the butt-end of a gun; and Dick, before he had
time to shout or make a movement in his defense, was dragged from his
horse, his head wrapped in a thick cloth, and his arms bound. Then he
could feel himself lifted up and rapidly carried off. After a time he was
put on his legs and the covering of his head removed. He found Ned beside
him; and a word of congratulation that both were alive was exchanged. Then
a rope was placed round each of their necks, and surrounded by their
captors, two of whom rode their horses, they were started at a run, with
admonitions from those around them that any attempt to escape or to shout
would be punished with instant death.
For full two hours they were hurried along, and then the party halted at
the edge of a thick jungle, lighted a fire, and began to cook. The
prisoners were allowed to sit down with their captors. These were
matchlock-men, on their way to join the forces besieging the Residency at
Cawnpore, toward which town they had been making their way, as the boom of
the guns sounded sharper and clearer every mile that they traveled. Ned
gathered from the talk that their capture was the effect of pure accident.
The party had sat down in the wood to eat, when they heard a troop of
horsemen passing. A word or two spoken in English as the leaders came
along sufficed to show the nationality of the troop, and the band lay
quiet in the bushes until, as they supposed, all had passed. They had
risen to leave when the two last horsemen came in view, and these they
determined to capture and carry off, if possible, hoping to get a
considerable reward from Nan a Sahib on their arrival at Cawnpore.
Nana Sahib's name had not as yet that terrible history attached to it
which rendered it execrated wherever the English tongue is spoken; but the
boys had heard that after pretending to be the friend of the whites, he
was now leading the assault against them, and that he was therefore a
traitor, and fighting as it were with a rope round his neck. At the hands
of such a man they had no mercy to expect.
"It is of no use trying to make a bolt, Ned?"
"Not the least in the world. The two fellows next to us are appointed to
watch us. Don't you see they are sitting with their guns across their
knees? We should be shot down in a moment."
There was a debate among the band whether to push on to Cawnpore at once;
but they had already made a long day's journey, and moreover thought that
they could create a greater effect by arriving with their prisoners by
daylight. The fire was made up, and the men wrapped themselves in their
cloths--the native of India almost invariably sleeps with his head
covered, and looking more like a corpse than a living being. Anxiously the
boys watched in hopes that their guards would follow the example. They
showed, however, no signs of doing so, but sat talking over the
approaching destruction of the English rule and of the restoration of the
Two hours passed; the fire burned low, and the boys, in spite of the
danger of their position, were just dropping off to sleep, when there was
a mighty roar--a rush of some great body passing over them--a scream of
one of the natives--a yell of terror from the rest. A tiger stood with one
of the guards in his mouth, growling fiercely, and giving him an
occasional shake, as a cat would shake a mouse, while one of his paws held
down the prostrate figure of the other.
There was a wild stampede--men tumbled over and over each other in their
efforts to escape from the terrible presence, and then, getting to their
feet, started off at full speed. For a moment the boys had lain paralyzed
with the sudden advent of the terrible man-eater, and then had, like the
rest, darted away.
"To the jungle!" Ned exclaimed; and in an instant they had plunged into
the undergrowth, and were forcing their way at full speed through it. Man-
eating tigers are rarely found in pairs, and there was little fear that
another was lurking in the wood; and even had such been the case, they
would have preferred death in that form to being murdered in cold blood by
the enemy. Presently they struck on a track leading through the wood, and
followed it, until in five minutes they emerged at the other side. As they
did so they heard the report of firearms in the direction of their last
halting-place, and guessed that the peasants were firing at hazard, in
hopes of frightening the tiger into dropping his prey. As to their own
flight, it was probable that so far they had been unthought of. The first
object of the fugitives was to get as far as possible from their late
captors, who would at daybreak be sure to organize a regular hunt for
them, and accordingly they ran straight ahead until in three-quarters of
an hour they came into a wide road. Then, exhausted with their exertions,
they threw themselves down, and panted for breath.
Dick was the first to speak. "What on earth are we to do now, Ned? These
uniforms will betray us to the first person we meet, and we have no means
"We must get as far away as we can before daylight, Dick, and then hide
up. Sooner or later we must throw ourselves on the hospitality of some
one, and take our chance. This is evidently the main road to Cawnpore,
and, judging from the guns, we cannot be more than ten or twelve miles
away. It will not do to go back along this road, for the fellows we have
got away from may strike it below us and follow it up. Let us go forward
along it till we meet a side road, and take that."
Ten minutes' walking brought them to a point where a side road came in,
and, taking this, they walked steadily on. They passed two or three
villages, which the moonlight enabled them to see before they reached
them; these they avoided by a detour, as the dogs would be sure to arouse
the inhabitants, and it was only in a solitary abode that they had a
chance of being sheltered. Toward morning they saw ahead a building of
considerable size, evidently the abode of a person of consequence. It was
not fortified; but behind it was a large inclosure, with high walls.
"I vote we climb over that wall, Ned; there are several trees growing
close up to it. If they hunt the country round for us they will never look
inside there; and I expect that there is a garden, and we are sure to find
a hiding-place. Then, if the owner comes out, we can, if he looks a decent
chap, throw ourselves on his hands."
"I think that a good idea, Dick; the sooner we carry it out the better,
for in another half-hour day will be breaking."
[Illustration: A TIGER STOOD, WITH ONE OF THE GUARDS IN HIS MOUTH,
They made a detour round to the back of the building, and after some
search found a tree growing close enough to the wall to assist them. This
they climbed, got along a branch which extended over the top of the wall,
and thence dropped into the garden. Here there were pavilions and
fountains, and well-kept walks, with great clumps of bushes and flowering
shrubs well calculated for concealment. Into one of these they crept, and
were soon fast asleep.
It was late in the afternoon when they awoke, roused by the sound of
laughter, and of the chatter of many voices.
"Good gracious!" Ned exclaimed; "we have got into the women's garden."
In another minute a group of women came in sight. The principal figure was
a young woman of some twenty-two or twenty-three, and with a red wafer-
like patch on her forehead, very richly dressed.
"She is a Hindoo," Ned whispered; "what luck!"
There are indeed very few Hindoos in Oude, and the Mohammedan being the
dominant race, a Hindoo would naturally feel far more favorably inclined
toward a British fugitive than a Mohammedan would be likely to do, as the
triumph of the rebellion could to them simply mean a restoration, of
Mohammedan supremacy in place of the far more tolerant British rule.
Next to the ranee walked an old woman, who had probably been her nurse,
and was now her confidante and adviser. The rest were young women, clearly
"And so, Ahrab, we must give up our garden, and go into Cawnpore; and in
such weather too!"
"It must be so indeed," the elder woman said. "These Mohammedans doubt us,
and so insist on your highness showing your devotion to the cause by
taking up your residence in Cawnpore, and sending in all your retainers to
join in the attack on the English."
The ranee looked sad.
"They say there are hundreds of women and little children there," she
said, "and that the English who are defending them are few."
"It is so," Ahrab said. "But they are brave. The men of the Nana, and the
old regiments, are fifty to one against them, and the cannon fire night
and day, and yet they do not give way a foot."
"They are men, the English sahibs."
While they were speaking the two chief personages of the party had taken
their seats in a pavilion close to the spot where the young Warreners were
Ned translated the purport of the talk to Dick, and both agreed that the
way of safety had opened to them.
Seeing that their mistress was not in the humor for laughter and mirth,
and would rather talk quietly with her chief friend and adviser, the
attendants gradually left them, and gathered in a distant part of the
Then Ned and Dick crept out of their hiding-place, and appeared suddenly
at the entrance to the pavilion, where they fell on one knee, in an
attitude of supplication, and Ned said:
"Oh, gracious lady, have pity upon two fugitives!"
The ranee and her counselor rose to their feet with a little scream, and
hastily covered their heads.
"Have pity, lady," Ned went on earnestly; "we are alone and friendless;
oh, do not give us up to our enemies."
"How did you get here?" asked the elder woman.
"We climbed the wall," Ned said. "We knew not that this garden was the
ladies' garden, or we might not have invaded it; now we bless Providence
that has brought us to the feet of so kind and lovely a lady."
The ranee laughed lightly behind her veil.
"They are mere boys, Ahrab."
"Yes, your highness, but it would be just as dangerous for you to shelter
boys as men. And what will you do, as you have to go to Cawnpore to-
"Oh, you can manage somehow, Ahrab--you are so clever," the ranee said
coaxingly; "and I could not give them up to be killed: I should never feel
"May Heaven bless you, lady!" Ned said earnestly; "and your kind action
may not go unrewarded even here. Soon, very soon, an English army will be
at Cawnpore to punish the rebels, and then it will be well with those who
have succored British fugitives."
"Do you say an English army will come soon?" Ahrab said doubtfully. "Men
say the English Raj is gone forever."
"It is not true," Ned said. "England has not begun to put out her strength
yet. She can send tens of thousands of soldiers, and the great chiefs of
the Punjab have all declared for her. Already Delhi is besieged, and an
army is gathering at Allahabad to march hither. It may be quickly; it may
be slowly; but in the end the English rule will be restored, her enemies
will be destroyed, and her friends rewarded. But I know," he went on,
turning to the ranee, "that it needs not a thought of this to influence
you, and that in your kind heart compassion alone will suffice to secure
us your protection."
The ranee laughed again.
"You are only a boy," she said, "but you have learned to flatter. Now tell
us how you got here."
"Your highness," Ahrab interrupted, "I had better send all the others in,
for they might surprise us. Let these young sahibs hide themselves again;
then we will go in, and I will call in your attendants. Later, when it is
dusk, you will plead heat, and come out here with me again, and then I can
bring some robes to disguise the sahibs; that is, if your highness has
resolved to aid them."
"I think I have resolved that, Ahrab," the ranee said. "You have heard,
young sahibs; retire now, and hide. When the sun has set we will be here
With deep assurance of gratitude from Ned, the lads again took refuge in
the shrubs, delighted with the result of their interview.
"I do hope that the old one will bring us something to eat, Ned. I am as
hungry as a hunter! That ranee's a brick, isn't she?"
Two hours later a step was heard coming down the garden, and a woman came
and lit some lamps in the pavilion, and again retired. Then in another ten
minutes the ranee and her confidante made their appearance. The former
took her seat on the couch in the pavilion, the latter remained outside
the circle of light, and clapped her hands softly. In a minute the boys
stood before her. She held out a basket of provisions, and a bundle of
"Put these wraps on over your uniforms," she said; "then if we should be
surprised, no one will be any the wiser."
The boys retired, hastily ate some food, then wrapped themselves in the
long folds of cotton which form the principal garment of native women of
the lower class, and went forward to the pavilion.
The ranee laughed outright.
"How clumsy you are!" she said. "Ahrab, do arrange them a little more like
Ahrab adjusted their robes, and brought one end over their heads, so that
it could, if necessary, be pulled over the face at a moment's notice.
The ranee then motioned to them to sit down upon two cushions near her;
and saying to Ahrab, "It is very hot, and they are only boys," removed the
veil from her face. "You make very pretty girls, only you are too white,"
"Lady, if we had some dye we could pass as natives, I think," Ned said;
"we have done so before this, since the troubles began."
"Tell me all about it," the ranee said. "I want to know who you are, and
how you came here as if you had dropped from the skies."
Ned related their adventures since leaving Delhi, and then the ranee
insisted upon an account of their previous masquerading as natives.
"How brave you English boys are," she said. "No wonder your men have
conquered India. Now, Ahrab, tell these young sahibs what we propose."
"We dare not leave you here," Ahrab said. "You would have to be fed, and
we must trust many people. We go to Cawnpore to-morrow, and you must go
with us. My son has a garden here; we can trust him, and he will bring a
bullock-cart with him to-morrow morning. In this will be placed some
boxes, and he will start. You must wait a little way off, and when you see
him you will know him, because he will tie a piece of red cloth to the
horns of the bullock; you will come up and get in. He will ask no
questions, but will drive you to the ranee's. I will open the door to you
and take you up to a little room where you will not be disturbed. We shall
all start first. You cannot go with us, because the other women will
wonder who you are. Here is some stuff to dye your faces and hands. I will
let you out by a private door. You will see a wood five minutes along the
road. You must stop there to-night, and do not come out till you see the
ranee and her party pass. There is a little hut, which is empty, in the
wood, where you can sleep without fear of disturbance. The ranee is sorry
to turn you out to-night, but we start at daybreak, and I should have no
opportunity of slipping away and letting you out."
Everything being now arranged, the ranee rose. Ned reiterating the
expression of the gratitude of his brother and himself, the ranee
coquettishly held out a little hand whose size and shape an Englishwoman
might have envied; and the boys kissed it--Ned respectfully, Dick with a
heartiness which made her laugh and draw it away.
"You are a darling," Dick said in English, with the native impudence of a
midshipman, "and I wish I knew enough of your lingo to tell you."
"What does he say?" she asked of Ned.
"He is a sailor," Ned said; "and sailors say things we on shore would not
venture to say. My brother says you are the flower of his heart."
"Your brother is an impudent boy," the ranee said, laughing, "and I have a
good mind to hand him over to the Nana. Now good-by! Ahrab will let you
Of all the names connected with the Indian mutiny, Cawnpore stands out
conspicuous for its dark record of treachery, massacre, and bloodshed; and
its name will, so long as the English language continues, be regarded as
the darkest in the annals of our nation. Cawnpore is situated on the
Ganges, one hundred and twenty-three miles northwest of Allahabad, and was
at the time of our story a large straggling town, extending nearly five
miles along the river. It stands on a sandy plain, intensely hot and dusty
in summer, and possesses no fort or other building such as proved the
safety of the Europeans in Agra and Allahabad. The force stationed there
at the first outbreak of the mutiny consisted of the First, Fifty-third,
and Fifty-sixth Native Regiments, the Second Regiment of Bengal Cavalry,
and about fifty European invalid artillerymen. When the news of the revolt
at Meerut reached Cawnpore, and it was but too probable that the mutiny
would spread to all the native regiments throughout the country, Sir Hugh
Wheeler, who was in command, at once set to work to prepare a fortified
position, in which to retire with the European residents in case of
necessity. To this end he connected with breastworks a large unfinished
building intended as a military hospital, with the church and some other
buildings, all standing near the center of the grand parade, and
surrounded the whole with an intrenchment. Within these lines he collected
ammunition, stores and provisions for a month's consumption for a thousand
persons, and having thus, as he hoped, prepared for the worst, he awaited
Although there was much uneasiness and disquietude, things went on
tolerably well up to the middle of May. Then Sir Hugh Wheeler sent to
Lucknow, forty miles distant, to ask for a company of white troops, to
enable him to disarm the Sepoys; and he also asked aid of Nana Sahib,
Rajah of Bithoor, who was looked upon as a stanch friend of the English.
On the 22d of May fifty-five Europeans of the Thirty-second Regiment, and
two hundred and forty native troopers of the Oude irregular cavalry,
arrived from Lucknow, and two guns and three hundred men were sent in by
the Rajah of Bithoor.
Nana Sahib was at this time a man of thirty-two years of age, having been
born in the year 1825. He was the son of poor parents, and had at the age
of two years and a half been adopted by the Peishwa, who had no children
of his own. In India adoption is very common, and an adopted son has all
the legal rights of a legitimate offspring. The Peishwa, who was at one
time a powerful prince, was dethroned by us for having on several
occasions joined other princes in waging war against us, but was honorably
treated, and an annuity of eighty thousand pounds a year was assigned to
him and his heirs. In 1851 the Peishwa died, leaving Nana Dhoondu Pant,
for that was the Nana's full name, his heir and successor. The Company
refused to continue the grant to Nana Sahib, and in so doing acted in a
manner at once impolitic and unjust. It was unjust, because they had
allowed the Peishwa and Nana Sahib, up to the death of the former, to
suppose that the Indian law of adoption would be recognized here as in all
other cases; it was impolitic, because as the greater portion of the
Indian princes had adopted heirs, these were all alarmed at the refusal to
recognize the Nana, and felt that a similar blow might be dealt to them.
Thus, at this critical period of our history, the minds of the great
Indian princes were all alienated from us, by what was in their eyes at
once a breach of a solemn engagement, and a menace to every reigning
house. Nana Sahib, however, evinced no hostility to the English rule. He
had inherited the private fortune of the Peishwa, and lived in great state
at Bithoor. He affected greatly the society of the British residents at
Cawnpore, was profuse in his hospitality, and was regarded as a jovial
fellow and a stanch friend of the English. When the mutiny broke out, it
proved that he was only biding his time. Nana Sahib was described by an
officer who knew him four years before the mutiny, as then looking at
least forty years old and very fat. "His face is round, his eyes very
wild, brilliant and restless. His complexion, as is the case with most
native gentlemen, is scarcely darker than that of a dark Spaniard, and his
expression is, on the whole, of a jovial, and indeed, somewhat rollicking
character." In reality, this rollicking native gentleman was a human
On the very night that the men of the Thirty-second came in from Oude,
there was an alarm of a rising, and the ladies and children of the station
took refuge in the fortified post prepared for them; and from that time
the sufferings of the residents commenced, although it was not for a
fortnight afterward that the mutiny took place; for the overcrowding and
the intense heat at once began to affect the health of those huddled
together in ill-ventilated rooms, and deprived of all the luxuries which
alone make existence endurable to white people in Indian cities on the
plains during the heats of summer. Scarce a day passed without news of
risings at other stations taking place, and with the receipt of each item
of intelligence the insolence displayed by the Sepoys increased.
A few English troops arrived from Allahabad and at midnight upon the 4th
of June, when the natives broke into revolt, there were in the
intrenchments of Cawnpore eighty-three officers of various regiments,
sixty men of the Eighty-fourth Regiment, and seventy of the Thirty-second,
fifteen of the First Madras Fusiliers, and a few invalid gunners; the
whole defensive force consisting of about two hundred and forty men, and
six guns. There were under their charge a large number of ladies and
children, the wives and families of the officers and civilians at the
station, sixty-four women and seventy-six children belonging to the
soldiers, with a few native servants who remained faithful. The total
number of women, children, and non-effectives amounted to about eight
hundred and seventy persons.
During the night of the 4th of June the whole of the native troops rose,
set fire to all the European residences outside the intrenchments, and
marched to Nawabgunge, a place four miles away. A message was sent by them
to Nana Sahib, to the effect that they were marching to Delhi, and
inviting him to assume the command. This he at once assented to, and
arrived at Nawabgunge a few hours later, with six hundred troops and four
guns; and his first act was to divide the contents of the English treasury
there, which had been guarded by his own troops, among the mutineers.
Having destroyed the European buildings, the force marched to Kulleanpore,
on its way to Delhi; but on its reaching this place the same evening, Nana
Sahib called together the native officers, and advised them to return to
Cawnpore and kill all the Europeans there. Then they would be thought much
of when they arrived at Delhi. The proposal was accepted with acclamation,
and during the night the rebel army marched back to Cawnpore, which they
invested the next morning; the last message from Sir Hugh Wheeler came
through on that day, fighting having begun at half-past ten in the
The first proceeding of the mutineers was to take possession of the native
town of Cawnpore, where the houses of the peaceable and wealthy
inhabitants were at once broken open and plundered, and many respectable
The bombardment of the British position began on the 6th, and continued
with daily increasing fury. Every attempt to carry the place by storm was
repelled, but the sufferings of the besieged were frightful. There was but
one well, in the middle of the intrenchments, and upon this by night and
by day the enemy concentrated their fire, so that it might be said that
every bucket of water cost a man's life. After four or five days of
incessant bombardment, the enemy took to firing red-hot shot, and on the
13th the barracks were set on fire, and, a strong wind blowing, the fire
spread so rapidly that upward of fifty sick and wounded were burned. The
other buildings were so riddled with shot and shell that they afforded
scarcely any shelter. Many of the besieged made holes in the ground or
under the banks of the intrenchments; but the deaths from sunstroke and
fever were even more numerous than those caused by the murderous and
In the city a reign of terror prevailed. All the native Christians were
massacred, with their wives and families; and every white prisoner brought
in--and they were many--man, woman, or child, was taken before the Nana,
and murdered by his orders.
Day by day the sufferings of the garrison in the intrenchments became
greater, and the mortality among the woman and children was terrible.
Every day saw the army of the Nana increasing, by the arrival of mutineers
from other quarters, until it reached a total of over twelve thousand men,
while the fighting force of the garrison had greatly decreased; yet the
handful of Englishmen repulsed every effort of the great host of
assailants to carry the fragile line of intrenchments.
When Ned and Dick Warrener, having carried out the instructions given by
the ranee, arrived next morning at her house at Cawnpore, Ahrab at once
led them to a small apartment.
"I have much news to tell you. The fighting is over here. The Nana sent in
a messenger to the English sahibs, to say that if they would give up the
place, with the guns and treasure, he would grant a free passage for all;
and the Nana and his Hindoo officers have sworn the sacred oath of our
religion, and the Mohammedans have sworn on the Koran, that these
conditions shall be observed. Boats are to be provided for them all. They
leave to-morrow at dawn. Her highness the ranee will shelter you here if
you like to stay; but if you wish it you can go at daybreak and join your
With many thanks for the ranee's offer, the boys at once decided to join
their countrymen; and accordingly next morning after a kind farewell from
their protectress, they started before daybreak under charge of their
driver of the day before, and, still in their disguises of native women,
made their way to a point on the line of route outside the town. There
were but few people here, and, just as day broke the head of the sad
procession came along. The women and children, the sick and wounded--among
the latter Sir H. Wheeler, the gallant commander of the garrison--were in
wagons provided by the Nana; the remnant of the fighting men marched
afterward. Hastily dropping their women's robes, the boys slipped in among
the troops, unnoticed by any of the guards of Nana's troops who were
escorting the procession.
A few words explained to their surprised compatriots that they were
fugitives who had been in shelter in the town, and many a word of welcome
was muttered, and furtive handshakes given. In return the boys were able
to give the news of the arrival of the British before Delhi, and the
commencement of the siege, all of which was new to the garrison, who had
been for twenty-two days without a word from the outer world. At last the
column reached the ghat, or landing-place, fixed upon for their
Here seventeen or eighteen boats were collected. The way down to the river
was steep, for the bank of the Ganges is here rather high, and covered
with thick jungle. At the top of the ghat is a small Hindoo temple. The
wounded and sick were carried down the bank and placed in the boats, the
ladies and children took their places, the officers and men then followed.
When all was ready, the Nana's officer suddenly called the native boatmen
to come ashore to receive their wages for the passage down to Benares.
Then, as if by magic, from out the thick jungle on both sides of the path
to the ghat, hundreds of Sepoys rushed; while at the same moment lines of
bushes fell to the ground, and showed a number of cannon, all placed in
position. In a moment a tremendous fire was opened upon the unhappy
fugitives. Numbers of them were at once killed in the boats; some jumped
into the water, and, pushing the boats afloat, made for the opposite
shore; while others leaped into the river on the deeper side and tried to
escape by swimming. But upon the other shore were enemies as bloodthirsty
as those they left behind, for there the Sepoys of the Seventeenth Native
Regiment, who had mutinied at Azimghur, were posted, and these cut off the
retreat of the fugitives there. Then all the boats, with the exception of
two or three which had drifted down stream, followed by bands of Sepoys
with cannon on either bank, were brought back to the starting-place, which
is known, and will be known through all time, as "the slaughter ghat."
There all the men still alive were taken on shore and shot; while the
women and children, many of them bleeding from wounds, were taken off to a
house formerly belonging to the medical department of the European troops,
called the Subada Khotee.
Dick and Ned Warrener were in one of the boats which were still ashore
when the treacherous Sepoys burst from their hiding-place. "The
scoundrels!" burst from Ned indignantly; while Dick, seeing at a glance
the hopelessness of their position, grasped his brother's arm.
"We must swim for it, Ned, Take a long dive, and go under again the moment
you have got breath."
Without an instant's delay the brothers leaped into the water, as dozens
of others were doing; and although each time their heads came up for an
instant the bullets splashed around them, they kept on untouched until
they reached the center of the stream. They were still within musket
range, but the distance was sufficient to render them pretty safe except
against an accidental shot. They looked back and saw the Sepoys had many
of them entered the river up to their shoulders, to shoot the swimmers:
others on horseback had ridden far out, and were cutting down those who,
unable to swim far, made again toward shallow water; while cannon and
muskets still poured in their fire against the helpless crowds in the
"Look, Ned, it is of no use making for the other shore," Dick said; "there
is another body of the wretches there; we must simply float down the
stream in the middle. If we keep on our backs, and sink as low as we can,
so as to show only our noses and mouths above water, they may fire for a
week without hitting us. There, give me your hand, so that we may float
together; I will look up from time to time to see that we are floating
pretty fairly in the middle, I will do it quickly, so as not to be seen,
for if we lie still on our backs they won't watch us after a time, but
will take us for two drifting dead bodies. Now, old boy!" So saying, the
lads turned on their backs, and occasionally giving a quiet stroke with
their legs, or paddling with their hands, drifted down stream, showing so
little of their faces above water that they could scarcely have been seen
from the shore.
Both the lads were good swimmers, but Dick was perfectly at home in the
water; and Ned, knowing his own inferiority in this respect, left himself
entirely in his brother's hands. Soon Dick, in his quick glances to note
their position, perceived that three boats alone of all the number had got
fairly away down stream--that their occupants had got out oars and were
quickly coming up to the swimmers; but he saw, too, that on both banks the
Sepoy guns kept abreast of them, and that a fire of artillery and musketry
was maintained. For a moment he thought of being taken on board; but their
chance of escaping the fire centered upon them seemed hopeless, and he
judged it was better to keep on in the water. He accordingly paddled
himself out of the center of the stream, so as to give the boats a wide
berth, trusting that the attention of the enemy would be so much directed
at the boats that the floating bodies would be unnoticed. As to keeping
afloat for any time, he had no fear whatever. The water of Indian rivers
in the heat of summer is so warm that swimmers can remain in them for many
hours without any feeling of chill or discomfort.
An hour later Dick lifted his head and looked forward. The firing was two
miles ahead now. But one boat of the three still floated, and Dick
congratulated himself that he had decided not to join his fate to that of
those on board. Hour after hour passed, and still the boys floated on,
until at last the sun went down, dusk came and went, and when all was dark
they turned on their faces and swam quietly down the stream. For many
hours, alternately swimming and floating, they kept their course down the
river, until toward morning they gently paddled ashore, crept into the
thick jungle of the bank, and fell asleep almost instantly.
It was dusk again before they awoke. They were desperately hungry, but
they agreed to spend one more night in the river before searching for
food, so as to put as much distance as possible between themselves and
Cawnpore. They had been twenty hours in the water before, and allowing two
miles an hour for the current, and something for their swimming, they
calculated that Cawnpore must be forty-six or forty-seven miles behind.
Eight hours' more steady swimming added twenty to this, and they landed
again with a hope that Nana Sahib's ferocious bands must have been left
behind, and that they had now only the ordinary danger of travel in such
times, through a hostile country, to face.
It yet wanted an hour or so of daybreak, and they struck off at right
angles to the river, and walked till it became light, when they entered a
small wood near to which was a hut. Watching this closely, they saw only
an old man come out, and at once made to it, and asked him for food and
shelter. Recovered from his first surprise, he received them kindly, and
gave them the best which his hut, in which he lived alone with his wife,
afforded. A meal of cakes and parched grain greatly revived them, and,
after a long sleep, they started again at nightfall, with enough food for
the next two days' supply. That they were not ahead of all their foes was
certain, from the fact that the peasant said that he had heard firing on
the river bank on the previous day. They knew by this also that the one
boat ahead of them had at any rate escaped its perils of the first day.
For two more nights they walked, passing one day in a thick wood, the
other in a ruined temple, their hopes rising; for, as they knew, the
further they got from Cawnpore the loss likely the country people were to
The third morning they again entered a hut to ask for food.
"I will give you food," the peasant said, "but you had better go to the
rajah's, his house is over there, half an hour's walk. He has four
Englishmen there who came from the river, and he is the friend of the
Delighted at the news, the boys went forward. As they entered the
courtyard of the house they were greeted with a hearty salutation in
English, and their hands were clasped a moment afterward by Lieutenant
Delafosse, an officer who had greatly distinguished himself in the defense
of Cawnpore, and was one of the few survivors. He took them in to the
rajah, who received them most kindly, and after they had been fed
Lieutenant Delafosse told them how he and his three comrades had escaped.
The boat had, although many on board had been hit by rifle balls, escaped
the first day. She was crowded, and very low in the water, having on board
most of those who had been in the two boats sunk by the enemy. The next
day they were again fired at without effect by artillery, infantry
accompanying the boat all day, and keeping up an incessant fire. On the
third day the boat was no longer serviceable, and grounded on a sand-bank.
Then the enemy's infantry fired so heavily that those still able to carry
arms, fourteen in number, made for the shore and attacked their foes.
These fell back, and the handful of Englishmen followed them. Great
numbers of the enemy now came up, and the English took refuge in a little
temple; here they defended themselves till the enemy piled bushes at the
entrance, and set them on fire. Then the English burst through the flames,
and made again for the river. Seven out of the twelve who got through the
fire reached the river, but of these two were shot before they had swum
far. Three miles lower down, one of the survivors, an artilleryman,
swimming on his back, went too near the bank and was killed. Six miles
lower down the firing ceased, and soon afterward the four survivors were
hailed by natives, who shouted to them to come ashore, as their master,
the rajah, was friendly to the English. They did so, and were most kindly
received by him.
An abundant meal and another good sleep did wonders for the young
Warreners, and the next morning they determined to set out to join their
countrymen at Allahabad, where they expected to find their father and his
troops. The rajah and their fellow-countrymen endeavored in vain to
dissuade them, but the former, finding that they were determined, gave
them dresses as native women, furnished them with a guide, and sent them
across the river in a boat--for they were on the Oude side--with a message
to a zemindar there to help them forward.
The zemindar to whom the Warreners' guide conducted them, after crossing
the Ganges, received them kindly, and told them that the safest way would
be for them to go on in a hackery, or native cart, and placed one at once
at their disposal, with a trusty man as a driver, and another to accompany
them in the hackery. He told them that British troops were, it was said,
arriving fast at Allahabad, and that it was even reported that an advance
had already taken place. Nana Sahib would, it was said, meet them at
Futtehpore, a place forty-eight miles from Cawnpore, and seventy-five from
Allahabad. As yet, however, none of his troops had reached Futtehpore,
which was fortunate, for the main road ran through that place, which was
but twenty miles from the point where they had crossed the Ganges; and
although they would keep by a road near the river, and so avoid the town,
the Nana's troops would be sure to be scouring the country. This news
decided them not to accept the zemindar's invitation to stay the night and
start the next morning early. It was still but little past noon, and they
might do many miles before darkness.
Before they halted the party had made fifteen miles, and in passing
through a village learned the welcome news that a small English force had
advanced to Synee, some ten miles only beyond Futtehpore. This force had,
it was said, met with little resistance as yet, and the country people
were full of stories of the manner in which the Sepoys and others who had
been engaged with them were, as soon as captured, hung up in numbers.
Already, in the minds of the peasantry, the idea that the British would be
the final conquerors in the strife was gaining ground; and as the whole
country had suffered from the exactions and insolence of the triumphant
Sepoys, and life and property were no longer safe for a moment, the secret
sympathy of all those who had anything to lose was with the advancing
The next day the party followed the road near the river all day, as they
feared to fall either into the hands of Sepoys retiring before the
English, or of those coming down from Cawnpore. They halted for the night
at a village whence a road ran direct to Synee, which was about eight
miles distant. The villagers repeated that the Sepoys had all fallen back,
and that there would be a great fight at Futtehpore. The English force was
small, but a large body were on their way up from Allahabad.
The boys started at daybreak, and had proceeded about three miles when a
body of cavalry were seen rapidly approaching.
The driver of the hackery put his head inside the leather curtain of the
"English," he said. The boys looked out, and gave a shout of joy as they
saw the well-known uniforms; and, regardless of their women's robes. they
leaped out and ran to meet them. The advanced guard of the cavalry stopped
"Halloo! what is up? who are you?"
"Why, Dunlop, don't you know us?" the boys shouted.
"The Warreners!" exclaimed Captain Dunlop, leaping from his horse and
seizing them by the hand. "My dear boys, this is joy."
The men set up a cheer, which was caught up by the main body as they came
up, and in another minute the boys were in their father's arms.
The young Warreners had been mourned as dead, for no one doubted that they
had been carried to Cawnpore, and had shared the fate of the garrison of
that place; and the joy of their father therefore was intense, while the
whole corps, with whom the boys were general favorites, were delighted.
After the first rapturous greeting Major Warrener took off his cap
reverently, and said a few words of deep gratitude to God, the men all
baring their heads as he did so. Then Captain Kent said:
"Shall I push on to the Ganges, major, with my troop? or perhaps your sons
can tell us what we are ordered to find out?"
"What is it?" Ned asked.
"Whether there are any bodies of troops pushing down by the river. It
would not do for them to get behind us, and threaten our communications."
The boys were able to affirm that there was no body of mutineers near the
Ganges below Futtehpore, as they had just come down that way.
"Then we can ride back at once," Major Warrener said. "Major Renaud was on
the point of marching when we started, and he will be glad to have us back
again. First, though, what have these natives done for you?"
Ned in a few words explained that they came by the instruction of their
master, and had been with them for three days.
The major made them a handsome present, and sent a message to the
zemindar, to the effect that his kindness would be reported to government;
and Dick scribbled a few words to Lieutenant Delafosse, with the news of
the British advance, and a kind message to the rajah.
"Now, Dick, you jump up behind me," his father said. "Dunlop can take you,
Ned; and you can give us a short account of what has befallen you as we
ride back. We must get you a couple of horses of some kind or another at
Synee. Can't you cast off these women's clothes?"
"We have got nothing to speak of underneath," Dick laughed; "we got rid of
our uniforms in the Ganges, and want a rig out from top to toe."
"Well, we must see what we can do for you tonight. And now," he asked, as
they trotted along at the head of the column, amid the smiles of the men
at the appearance of their commanding officer carrying, as it seemed, a
native woman _en croupe_, "how did you escape, boys? We did not miss you
until we halted for half an hour at midnight. Then six of us rode back ten
miles, but could find no trace of you, and we gave you up as lost; so we
rode on till we met Major Renaud's force coming up, when we sent our
rescued friends on to Allahabad, and turned back with just a shadow of
hope that we might yet find you alive somewhere or other."
Dick then told the story of the intervention of the tiger in their behalf,
and said that afterward an Indian lady had succored them, hinting that at
the end of the war it was probable that Ned would present his father with
"That's all very well," Ned laughed. "If Dick had understood the language,
I should have been nowhere. You should have seen him kiss her hand."
"Well, anyhow," Dick said, "she was a brick, father, and no mistake."
By this time Synee was reached. In spite of Major Warrener's liberal
offers, no horses or even ponies were forthcoming, so completely had the
Sepoys stripped the country, most of the villages having been burned as
well as plundered by them. From the valises of the troop various articles
of clothing were contributed, which enabled the lads again to take their
places in the ranks, but riding as before _en croupe_. In two hours after
their arrival at Synee they were moving forward again at a trot, and in
four hours came up with Major Renaud's force, encamped for the day.
They were glad to get in, for the rain, since they left Synee, had been
falling in sheets. The force was fortunately moving now along the grand
trunk road, a splendid piece of road-making, extending from Calcutta to
Peshawur, for already the country roads would have been almost impassable.
"Do we halt here for the day?" Ned asked his father, as they drew rein in
"Yes, Dick, the enemy are in force at Futtehpore, which is only some
fourteen miles away. Havelock is coming up by double marches. He halted
last night fifteen miles the other side of Synee. To-day he will reach
Synee; will bivouac there for a few hours, and will march on here in the
night. We are to be under arms by the time he will arrive, and the whole
of us will push forward to Khaga, five miles this side of Futtehpore. So
Havelock's men will have marched twenty-four miles straight off, to say
nothing of the fifteen to-day. The troops could not do it, were it not
that every one is burning to get to Cawnpore, to avenge the murder of our
comrades and to rescue the women and children, if it be yet time."
The boys were at once taken by their father to Major Renaud, who welcomed
them warmly. This officer had under his command a force of four hundred
British, and four hundred and twenty native troops, with two pieces of
After being introduced to Major Renaud the boys went to the tents allotted
to their corps, which were already pitched, and Major Warrener asked the
officers, and as many of the volunteers as his tent would hold, to listen
to the account of the massacre of Cawnpore, which was now for the first
time authentically told; for hitherto only native reports had come down
from the city. Great was the indignation and fury with which the tale of
black treachery and foul murder was heard; and when the story was told it
had to be repeated to the officers of the other corps in camp.
The terrible tale soon spread through the camp; and men gnashed their
teeth in rage, and swore bitter oaths--which were terribly kept--to avenge
the deeds that had been committed. Uppermost of all, however, was the
anxiety about the women and children; for the boys had heard, when staying
at the friendly rajah's, that near one hundred and twenty of these
unfortunates--the survivors of the siege, and of the river attack--had
been shut up in a room in the Cawnpore lines.
At three o'clock next morning--the 11th of July--the troops were under
arms, the tents struck, and all in readiness for an advance. Presently a
dull sound was heard; it grew louder, and the head of General Havelock's
column came up.
There was a short halt while Major Renaud reported to the general the
state of affairs in front, as far as he knew them. He mentioned, too, that
two survivors of the Cawnpore massacre had that day come in, and that four
others were in shelter with a native rajah on the Oude side of the Ganges.
The general at once requested that the Warreners should be brought up to
him; and the lads were accordingly presented to the man whose name,
hitherto unknown outside military circles, was--in consequence of the
wonderful succession of battles and of victories, of which that date, the
12th of July, was to mark the first--to become a household word in
"The column had better move forward, Major Renaud; your division will
lead. If you will ride by me, gentlemen, you can tell me of this dreadful
business as we go."
Fortunately there were several horses in Major Renaud's camp, which had
been taken from men of the enemy's cavalry who had been surprised in the
upward march, and two of them had been assigned to the boys, so that they
were able to feel once more as soldiers.
On arriving at Khaga, an insignificant village, General Havelock said to
"Thank you very much for your information. You have behaved with great
coolness and courage, and Major Warrener, your father, has every reason to
be proud of you. I am short of aids-de-camp, and shall be glad if you will
act as my gallopers"--an honor which, it need hardly be said, the boys
The following was the total force under General Havelock's command when he
commenced the series of battles which were finally to lead him to Lucknow:
Seventy-six men of the Royal Artillery, three hundred and seventy-six of
the Madras Fusiliers, four hundred and thirty-five of the Sixty-fourth
Regiment, two hundred and eighty-four of the Seventy-eighth Highlanders
one hundred and ninety men of the Eighty-fourth Regiment, twenty-two men
of the Bengal Artillery. Total of British regular troops, thirteen hundred
and eighty-three, with eight guns. Besides these he had Warrener's Horse.
Of natives he had the Ferozepore Regiment (Sikhs), four hundred and forty-
eight strong, ninety-five men of the native irregular cavalry, who were
worse than useless, and eighteen mounted native police.
The order for a halt was welcome indeed to the troops. Havelock's column
had marched twenty-four miles without resting or eating, and fires were
speedily lighted, and preparation made for breakfast. Major Tytler,
quartermaster-general to the force, had, on arriving at the halting-place,
taken twenty of Warrener's Horse, and had gone forward to reconnoiter. The
water was growing hot, and the tired soldiers as they lay on the ground,
pipes in mouths, were thinking that breakfast would soon be ready, when
there was an exclamation:
"Here come the Horse! Something's up!"
The reconnoitering party were seen galloping back at full speed, and a
minute or two later a large body of the enemy's cavalry in rapid pursuit
emerged from a tope on the edge of the plain. The bugles sounded to arms,
and the men grasped their fire-arms and fell in, but not without many a
muttered exclamation of disgust.
"Confound them! they might have given us time for breakfast!"
"They need not be in such a hurry; the day's long enough."
"I thought I hated them fellows as bad as a chap could do; but I owe them
A laugh was raised by a young officer saying cheerily to his men,
"Nevermind, lads, we'll return good for evil. They won't let us have
enough to eat, and we are going to give them more than they can digest."
In a very short time a considerable force of the enemy's infantry
appeared, following the cavalry, and with them were some guns, which at
once opened on the British force.
Hitherto General Havelock had made no move. He knew that his men urgently
needed rest and food. The sun had come out, and was blazing fiercely; and
it was of great importance that the troops should eat before undertaking
what could not but be a heavy morning's work; but the enemy, who believed
that they had only Major Renaud's weak force before them, pressed forward
so boldly that there was no refusing the challenge so offered. The order
was given to advance, and the men, with a hearty cheer, moved forward
against the enemy, whose force consisted of fifteen hundred Sepoys,
fifteen hundred Oude tribesmen, and five hundred rebel cavalry, with
twelve guns. Their position was a strong one, for on each side of the road
the plain was a swamp, and in many places was two and even more feet under
water. In front, on a rising ground, were some villages with gardens and
mango-groves, and behind this Futtehpore itself, with gardens with high
walls, and many houses of solid masonry.
It may, however, be said that the fight was decided as soon as begun. The
British artillery silenced that of the enemy; the British rifles drove
their infantry before them. Warrener's Horse and the irregular cavalry
moved on the flank, the infantry marched straight the swamps, and while
some of the guns kept on the solid road, others had to be dragged and
pushed with immense labor through the morass. As the British advanced the
enemy fell back, abandoning gun after gun. The general of the Sepoy force
was on an elephant, on rising ground in the rear of his troops, and
Captain Maude, who commanded the artillery, by a well-aimed shot knocked
the elephant over, to the great delight of the gunners. After that the
rebels attempted no further resistance, and fled to Futtehpore. There they
prepared to make a stand in the houses and gardens; but our men, whose
blood was now thoroughly up, and who were disgusted at their failure to
get at their foe, went forward with a rush, and the enemy fled without
The streets of Futtehpore were absolutely choked with the baggage train of
the defeated rebels, and the discovery of many articles of attire of
English ladies and children raised the fury of the troops to the highest
point. Pursuit of the enemy was, however, impossible. The troops were
utterly exhausted, and officers and men threw themselves down where-ever a
little shade could be found. At three o'clock the baggage came up, and by
the forethought of the commissariat officer in charge some camels laden
with rum and biscuit came up with it, so that the men were able to have a
biscuit and a little spirits and water, which revived them; for whatever
be the demerits of spirits upon ordinary occasions, on an emergency of
this kind it is a restorative of a very valuable kind.
Singularly enough, in this battle, in which thirty-five hundred men were
defeated and twelve guns captured, not a single British soldier was
killed, the enemy never waiting until fairly within shot. Twelve soldiers,
however, fell and died from sunstroke during the fight.
On the 13th the troops halted to rest. The guns taken from the enemy were
brought in, and the great baggage train captured in the town organized for
our own service.
On the 14th the force again advanced along a road literally strewn with
arms, cartridges, chests of ammunition, shot, clothing, and tents,
abandoned in their flight by the insurgents. The most welcome find to the
army were forty barrels of English porter, part of the Sepoys' loot at one
of the scenes of mutiny. That night the force encamped at Kulleanpore,
twenty-seven miles from Cawnpore.
"So far it has been easy work, except for the legs," Major Warrener said,
as he sat with his sons and his officers on the evening of the 13th; "but
it will be very different work now. These scoundrels are fighting with
ropes round their necks; they know that every Cawnpore Sepoy who falls
into our hands will have but a short shrift, and they can't help fighting.
Altogether, they have something like five times our force; and as they
have all been most carefully drilled and trained by ourselves, the
scoundrels ought to make a good fight of it."
"I don't mind the fighting," Ned said, "so much as the heat; it is awful."
"It is hot, Ned," Captain Dunlop said; "but at rate it is better for us
who sit on horseback than for the men who have to march, and carry a rifle
"Do you think we shall have fighting to-morrow, father?" Dick asked.
"We are certain to do so. The pandies have been intrenching themselves
very strongly at Dong, which is five miles from here. But this is not the
worst part. We know they have placed two heavy guns on the other side of
the Pandoo Nuddee, which is a large stream three miles beyond Dong. These
guns will sweep not only the bridge, but the straight road for a mile
leading to it. The bridge, too, has, we know, been mined; and our only
chance is to go on with the mutineers, so as to give them no time to blow
The work of the 14th, however, was less severe than was expected. The
enemy fought stoutly at the village, advancing beyond the inclosures to
meet our troops. Our superior rifle and artillery fire, however, drove
them back, and then they clung stubbornly to the village and inclosures,
our advance being retarded by the threatening attitude of large bodies of
the enemy's cavalry, who moved upon the flanks and menaced the baggage.
The force under Havelock being so weak in cavalry--for the native
irregulars had been disarmed and dismounted for their bad conduct--there
remained only Warrener's Horse, who were known in the force as the
"volunteers." These covered the baggage, and executed several brilliant
charges on parties of the enemy's cavalry who came too boldly forward; but
the artillery had to be brought from the front, and to open upon the heavy
masses of the enemy's cavalry, before they would fall back. Then the
column pressed forward again, captured Dong, with two guns placed there,
and drove the enemy out in headlong flight.
Then the force moved forward to the capture of the Pandoo bridge. As the
artillery, who were at the head of the column, debouched from a wood into
the straight bit of road leading to the bridge two puffs of smoke burst
from a low ridge ahead, followed by the boom of heavy guns, and the
twenty-four pound shot, splendidly aimed, crashed in among the guns,
bullocks, and men. Again and again the enemy's guns were fired with equal
accuracy. Our light guns were at the distance no match for these twenty-
four pounders, and Captain Maude ordered two guns to advance straight
along the road until within easy practice distance, and two others to go
across the country to the right and left, so as to take the bridge, which
stood at the extremity of a projecting bend of the river, or, as it is
called in military parlance, a salient angle, in flank.
The Madras Fusiliers, in skirmishing line, preceded the guns, and their
Enfield fire, as soon as they were within range, astonished the enemy.
Then the artillery opened with shrapnel, and nearly at the first round
silenced the enemy's guns by killing the majority of the gunners and
smashing the sponging rods. Then the infantry advanced at a charge, and
the enemy, who were massed to defend the bridge, at once lost heart and
fled. They tried to blow up the bridge, but in their haste they blundered
over it; and while the parapets were injured, the arches remained intact.
After all this fighting, the British loss was but six killed and twenty-
three wounded--among the latter being that brave officer Major Renaud,
whose leg was broken by a musket shot while leading the Madras Fusiliers.
Finding that the resistance was becoming more and more obstinate, General
Havelock sent off a horseman to Brigadier General Neil at Allahabad,
begging him to send up three hundred more British troops with all speed.
On receiving the message General Neil sent off two hundred and twenty-
seven men of the Eighty-fourth Regiment in bullock vans, with orders to do
twenty-five miles a day, which would take them to Cawnpore in less than
five days. He himself came on with the reinforcements, Allahabad being by
this time quiet and safe.
At daybreak next morning the troops marched fourteen miles, halted, and
cooked their food; after which, at one o'clock, they prepared to attack
the enemy, who were, our spies told us, in a position extremely strong in
the front, but capable of being attacked by a flank movement. In the
burning heat of the sun, with men falling out fainting at every step, the
troops, under a heavy artillery fire of the enemy, turned off the road and
swept round to execute the flank movement as calmly and regularly as if on
When they reached the points assigned to them for the attack they
advanced; and then, while the skirmishers and the artillery engaged the
enemy, who were strongly posted in the inclosures of a village, the main
body lay down. The enemy's guns were, however, too strongly posted to be
silenced, and the Seventy-eighth were ordered to take the position by
assault. The Highlanders moved forward in a steady line until within a
hundred yards of the village; then at the word "Charge!" they went at it
with a wild rush, delighted that at last they were to get hand to hand
with their foe. Not a shot was fired or a shout uttered as they threw
themselves upon the mutineers; the bayonet did its work silently and
A breach once made in the enemy's line, position after position was
carried--Highlanders, Sixty-fourth men, and Sikhs vieing with each other
in the ardor with which they charged the foe, the enemy everywhere
fighting stubbornly, though vainly.
At last, at six in the evening, all opposition ceased, and the troops
marched into the old parade ground of Cawnpore, having performed a twenty-
two miles' march, and fought for five hours, beneath a sun of tremendous
On the morning of the 17th of July the troops rose with light hearts from
the ground where they had thrown themselves, utterly exhausted, after the
tremendous exertions of the previous day. Cawnpore was before them, and as
they did not anticipate any further resistance--for the whole of the
enemy's guns had fallen into their hands, and the Sepoys had fled in the
wildest confusion at the end of the day, after fighting with obstinacy and
determination as long as a shadow of hope of victory remained--they looked
forward to the joy of releasing from captivity the hapless women and
children who were known to have been confined in the house called the
Subada Khotee, since the massacre of their husbands and friends on the
Just after daybreak there was a dull, deep report, and a cloud of gray
smoke rose over the city. Nana Sahib had ordered the great magazine to be
blown up, and had fled for his life to Bithoor. Well might he be hopeless.
He had himself commanded at the battle of the preceding day, and had seen
eleven thousand of his countrymen, strongly posted, defeated by a thousand
Englishmen. What chance, then, could there be of final success? As for
himself, his life was a thousandfold forfeit; and even yet his enemies did
not know the measure of his atrocities. It was only when the head of the
British column arrived at the Subada Khotee that the awful truth became
known. The troops halted, surprised that no welcome greeted them. They
entered the courtyard; all was hushed and quiet, but fragments of dresses,
children's shoes, and other remembrances of British occupation, lay
scattered about. Awed and silent, the leading officers entered the house,
and, after a glance round, recoiled with faces white with horror. The
floor was deep in blood; the walls were sprinkled thickly with it.
Fragments of clothes, tresses of long hair, children's shoes with the feet
still in them--a thousand terrible and touching mementos of the butchery
which had taken place there met the eye. Horror-struck and sickened, the
officers returned into the courtyard, to find that another discovery had
been made, namely, that the great well near the house was choked to the
brim with the bodies of women and children. Not one had escaped.
On the afternoon of the 15th, when the defeat at Futtehpore was known, the
Nana had given orders for a general massacre of his helpless prisoners.
There, in this ghastly well, were the remains, not only of those who had
so far survived the siege and first massacre of Cawnpore, but of some
seventy or eighty women and children, fugitives from Futteyghur. These
had, with their husbands, fathers and friends, a hundred and thirty in
all, reached Cawnpore in boats on the 12th of July. Here the boats had
been fired upon and forced to put to shore, when the men were, by the
Nairn's orders, all butchered, and the women and children sent to share
the fate of the prisoners of Cawnpore.
Little wonder is it that the soldiers, who had struggled against heat and
fatigue and a host of foes to reach Cawnpore, broke clown and cried like
children at that terrible sight; that soldiers picked up the bloody
relics--a handkerchief, a lock of hair, a child's sock sprinkled with
blood--and kept them to steel their hearts to all thoughts of mercy; and
that, after this, they went into battle crying to each other:
"Remember the ladies!" "Remember the babies!" "Think of Cawnpore!"
Henceforth, to the end of the war, no quarter was ever shown to a Sepoy.
One of the first impulses of the Warreners, when the tents were pitched in
the old cantonments, and the troops were dismissed, was to ride with their
father to the house of the ranee. It was found to be abandoned-as, indeed,
was the greater part of the town--and an old servant, who alone remained,
said that two days previously the ranee had left for her country abode.
Major Warrener at once drew out a paper, saying that the owner of this
house had shown hospitality and kindness to English fugitives, and that it
was therefore to be preserved from all harm or plunder; and having
obtained the signature of the quartermaster-general in addition to his
own, he affixed the paper to the door of the dwelling. The next day he
rode out with his sons and twenty of his men to the house where the boys
had first been sheltered. The gates were opened at his summons by some
trembling retainers, who hastened to assure them that the ranee, their
mistress, was friendly to the English.
"Will you tell her that there is no cause for alarm, but that we desire an
interview with her?" the major said, dismounting.
In a minute the servant returned, and begged the major to follow him,
which he did, accompanied by his sons. They were shown into a grand
reception room, where the ranee, thickly veiled, was sitting on a couch,
surrounded by her attendants, Ahrab standing beside her.
The ranee gave a little cry of pleasure on recognizing the boys, and Ahrab
instantly signed to the other attendants to retire. Then the ranee
unveiled, and the major, who had remained near the entrance until the
attendants had left, came forward, the boys kissing the hands that the
ranee held out to them.
"I have mourned for you as dead," she said. "When the news of that
horrible treachery came, and I thought that I had let you go to death, my
heart turned to water."
"This is our father, dear lady," Ned said; "he has come to thank you
himself for having saved and sheltered us."
The interview lasted for half an hour; refreshment being served, Ned
recounted the particulars of their escape. Major Warrener, on leaving,
handed the ranee a protection order signed by the general, to show to any
British troops who might be passing, and told her that her name would be
sent in with the list of those who had acted kindly to British fugitives,
all of whom afterward received honors and rewards in the shape of the
lands of those who had joined the mutineers. Then, with many expressions
of good-will on both sides, the major and his sons took their leave, and,
joining the troops below, rode back to Cawnpore.
For three days after his arrival at Cawnpore General Havelock rested his
troops, and occupied himself with restoring order in the town. Numbers of
Sepoys were found in hiding, and these were, as soon as identified, all
hung at once. On the third day Brigadier-General Neil arrived, with the
two hundred and twenty men of the Eighty-fourth, who had been hurried
forward-a most welcome reinforcement, for Havelock's force was sadly
weakened by loss in battle, sunstroke, and disease. On the 20th the army
marched against Bithoor, every heart beating at the thought of engaging
Nana Sahib, who, with five thousand men and a large number of cannon, had
made every preparation for the defense of his castle. At the approach of
the avenging force, however, his courage, and the courage of his troops,
alike gave way, and they fled without firing a shot, leaving behind them
guns, elephants, baggage, men, and horses, in great numbers. The magazine
was blown up, and the palace burned, and the force, with their captured
booty, returned to Cawnpore.
During the advance to Cawnpore the zeal and bravery of the young Warreners
had not escaped the notice of the general, who had named them in his
official report as gentlemen volunteers who had greatly distinguished
themselves. On the return from Bithoor, on the evening of the 20th, he
turned to them as he dismounted, and said, "Will you come to my tent in
two hours' time?"
"Young gentlemen," he said, when they presented themselves, and had at his
request seated themselves on two boxes which served as chairs, "in what I
am going to say to you, mind, I express no wish even of the slightest. I
simply state that I require two officers for a service of extreme danger.
I want to send a message into Lucknow. None of the officers of the English
regiments can speak the language with any fluency, and those of the Madras
Fusiliers speak the dialects of Southern India. Therefore it is among the
volunteers, who all belong to the northwest, that I must look. I have no
doubt that there are many of them who would undertake the service, and
whose knowledge of the language would be nearly perfect, but there are
reasons why I ask you whether you will volunteer for the work. In the
first place, you have already three times passed, while in disguise, as
natives; and in the second, your figures being slight, and still a good
deal under the height you will attain, render your disguise far less easy
to be detected than that of a full-grown man would be. If you undertake
it, you will have a native guide, who last night arrived from Lucknow with
a message to me, having passed through the enemy's lines. You understand,
young gentlemen, the service is one of great honor and credit if
accomplished, but it is also one of the greatest risk. I cannot so well
intrust the mission to the native alone, because I dare not put on paper
the tidings I wish conveyed, and it is possible, however faithful he may
be, that he might, if taken and threatened with death, reveal the message
with which he is charged. I see by your faces what your answer is about to
be, but I will not hear it now. Go first to your father. Tell him exactly
what I have told you, and then send me the answer if he declines to part
with you--bring it me if he consents to your going. Remember that in
yielding what I see is your own inclination, to his natural anxiety, you
will not fall in the very least from the high position in which you stand
in my regard. In an hour I shall expect to hear from you. Good-night, if I
do not see you again."
"Of course father will let us go," Dick said when they got outside the
tent. Ned did not reply.
"Dick, old boy," he said presently, as they walked along, "don't you think
if I go alone it would be better. It would be an awful blow to father to
lose both of us."
"No, Ned," Dick said warmly, "I hope he will not decide that. I know I
can't talk the lingo as you can, and that so I add to your danger; still
sometimes in danger two can help each other, and we have gone through so
much together--oh, Ned, don't propose that you should go alone."
Major Warrener--or Colonel Warrener as he should now be called, for
General Havelock had given him a step in rank, in recognition of the most
valuable service of his troop during the battles on the road to Cawnpore--
heard Ned in silence while he repeated, as nearly as possible word for
word, the words of the general. For some time he was silent, and sat with
his face in his hands.
"I don't like you both going, my boys," he said huskily.
"No, father," Dick said, "I feared that that was what you would say; but
although in some respects I should be a hindrance to Ned from not speaking
the language, in others I might help him. Two are always better than one
in a scrape, and if he got ill or wounded or anything I could nurse him;
and two people together keep up each other's spirits. You know, father, we
have got through some bad scrapes together all right, and I don't see why
we should not get through this. We shall be well disguised; and no end of
Sepoys, and people from Cawnpore, must be making their way to Lucknow, so
that very few questions are likely to be asked. It does not seem to me
anything like as dangerous a business as those we have gone through, for
the last thing they would look for is Englishmen making their way to
Lucknow at present. The guide who is going with us got out, you know; and
they must be looking out ten times as sharp to prevent people getting out,
as to prevent any one getting in."
"I really do not think, father," Ned said, "that the danger of detection
is great-certainly nothing like what it was before. Dick and I will of
course go as Sepoys, and Dick can bind up his face and mouth as if he had
been wounded, and was unable to speak. There must be thousands of them
making their way to Lucknow, and we shall excite no attention whatever.
The distance is not forty miles."
"Very well, boys, so be it," Colonel Warrener said. "There is much in what
you say; and reluctant as I am to part with you both, yet somehow the
thought that you are together, and can help each other, will be a comfort
to me. God bless you, my boys! Go back to the general, and say I consent
freely to your doing the duty for which he has selected you. I expect you
will have to start at once, but you will come back here to change."
General Havelock expressed his warm satisfaction when the boys returned
with their father's consent to their undertaking the adventure. "I
understand from Colonel Warrener," he said, addressing Ned, "that you are
intended for the army. I have deferred telling you that on the day of the
first fight I sent your name home, begging that you might be gazetted on
that date to a commission in the Sixty-fourth. Your name will by this time
have appeared in order. There are only two ensigns now in the regiment,
and ere I see you again there will, I fear, be more than that even of
death vacancies, so that you will have got your step. I will do the same
for you," he said, turning to Dick, "if you like to give up your
midshipman's berth and take to the army."
"No, thank you, sir," Dick said, laughing. "By the time this is over, I
shall have had enough of land service to last my life."
"I have already sent down a report to the admiral of your conduct,"
General Havelock said; "and as a naval brigade is coming up under Captain
Peel, you will be able to sail under your true colors before long. Now for
your instructions. You are to inform Colonel Inglis, who is in command
since the death of Sir H. Lawrence, that, although I am on the point of
endeavoring to push forward to his rescue, I have no hope whatever of
success. Across the river large forces of Oude irregulars, with guns, are
collected, and every step of the way will be contested. I must leave a
force to hold Cawnpore, and I have only eleven hundred bayonets in all.
With such a force as this it is impossible, if the enemy resists as
stubbornly as may be expected, for me to fight my way to Lucknow, still
more to force my way through the city, held by some ten or fifteen
thousand men, to the Residency, I may say that I have no hope of doing
this till I am largely reinforced. Still, my making a commencement of a
march, and standing constantly on the offensive, will force the enemy to
keep a large force on the road to oppose me, and will in so far relieve
the Residency from some of its foes. You see the importance of your
message. Did the enemy know my weakness, they would be able to turn their
whole force against the Residency. Tell our countrymen there that they
must hold out to the last, but that I hope and believe that in a month
from the present time the reinforcements will be up, and that I shall be
able to advance to their rescue. Colonel Inglis says that their stores
will last to the end of August, and that he believes that he can repel all
attacks. The native who goes with you bears word only that I am on the
point of advancing to the relief of the garrison. So if the worst happens,
and you are all taken, his message, if he betrays it, will only help to
deceive the enemy. You will start tonight if possible. I leave it to you
to arrange your disguises, and have ordered the guide to be at your
father's tent at nine o'clock--that is, in an hour and a half's time--so
that if you can be ready by that time, you will get well away before
daybreak. There is a small boat four miles up the river, that the guide
crossed in; he hid it in some bushes, so you will cross without
difficulty; and even if you are caught crossing, your story that you are
Sepoys who have been hiding for the last few days will pass muster. Now,
good-by, lads, and may God watch over you and keep you!"
Upon their return to Colonel Warrener's tent they found their friends
Captains Dunlop and Manners, and two or three of the officers most
accustomed to native habits and ways, and all appliances for disguise.
First the boys took a hearty meal; then they stripped, and were sponged
with iodine from head to foot; both were then dressed in blood-stained
Sepoy uniforms, of which there were thousands lying about, for the greater
portion of the enemy had thrown off their uniforms before taking to
flight. Ned's left arm was bandaged up with bloody rags, and put in a
sling, and Dick's head and face were similarly tied up, though he could
not resist a motion of repugnance as the foul rags were applied to him.
Both had a quantity of native plaster and bandages placed next to the
skin, in case suspicion should fall upon them and the outside bandages be
removed to see if wounds really existed; and Dick was given a quantity of
tow, with which to fill his mouth and swell out his cheeks and lips, to
give the appearance which would naturally arise from a severe wound in the
jaw. Caste marks were painted on their foreheads; and their disguise was
pronounced to be absolutely perfect to the eye. Both were barefooted, as
the Sepoys never travel in the regimental boots if they can avoid it.
At the appointed time the guide was summoned, an intelligent-looking
Hindoo in country dress. He examined his fellow-travelers, and pronounced
himself perfectly satisfied with their appearance.
Outside the tent six horses were in readiness. Colonel Warrener, and his
friends Dunlop and Manners, mounted on three, the others were for the
travelers; and with a hearty good-by to their other friends in the secret,
the party started.
Half an hour's riding took them to the place where the boat was concealed
in the bushes; and with a tender farewell from their father, and a hearty
good-by from his companions, the three adventurers took their places in
the boat and started.
Noiselessly they paddled across the Ganges, stepped out in the shallow
water on the other side, turned the boat adrift to float down with the
stream, and then struck across the country toward Lucknow.
They were now off the main road, on which the Oude mutineers collected to
oppose the advance of General Havelock were for the most part stationed.
Thus they passed village after village, unchallenged and unquestioned, and
morning, when it dawned, found them twenty miles on the road toward
Lucknow. Then they went into a wood and lay down to sleep, for even if any
one should enter accidentally and discover them, they had no fear of any
suspicion arising. They were now near the main road, and when they
started--just as it became dusk--they met various parties of horse and
foot proceeding toward Cawnpore; sometimes they passed without a question,
sometimes a word or two were said, the guide answering, and asking how
things went at Lucknow.
The subject was evidently a sore one; for curses on the obstinate
Feringhee dogs, and threats as to their ultimate fate, were their only
Eighteen miles' walk, and a great black wall rose in front of them.
"That is the Alumbagh," the guide said; "the sahibs will have a big fight
here. It is a summer palace and garden of the king. Once past this we will
leave the road. It is but two miles to the canal and we must not enter the
city--not that I fear discovery, but there would be no possibility of
entering the Residency on this side. Our only chance is on the side I left
it; that is by crossing the river. We must work round the town."
"How far are we from the Residency now? I can hear the cannon very
clearly;" and indeed for the last two hours of their walk the booming of
guns had been distinctly audible.
"It is about five miles in a straight line, but it will be double by the
route we must take."
Turning to the right after passing the dark mass of the Alumbagh, the
little party kept away through a wooded country until another great
building appeared in sight.
"That is the Dilkouska," the guide said. "Now we will go half a mile
further and then sleep; we cannot get in to-night."
In the afternoon they were awake again, and took their seats on a bank at
a short distance from any road, and looked at the city.
"What an extraordinary view!" Ned said. "What fantastic buildings! What an
immense variety of palaces and mosques! What is that strange building
nearest to us?" he asked the guide.
"That is the Martinière. It was built many years ago by a Frenchman in the
service of the king of Oude. Now it is a training college. All the pupils
are in the Residency, and are fighting like men. Beyond, between us and
the Residency, are several palaces and mosques. That is the Residency; do
you not see an English house with a tower, and a flag flying over it,
standing alone on that rising ground by the river?"
"And that is the Residency!" the boys exclaimed, looking at the building
in which, and the surrounding houses, a handful of Englishmen were keeping
at bay an army.
"That is the Residency," their guide said; "do you not see the circle of
smoke which rises around it? Listen; I can hear the rattle of musketry
"And how are we to get there?" the boys asked, impatient to be at work
taking part in the defense.
"We will keep on here to the right; the river is close by. We will swim
across after it gets dark, make a wide sweep round, and then come down to
the river again opposite the Residency, swim across, and then we are
Lucknow, although the capital of Oude, the center of a warlike people
smarting under recent annexation, had for a long time remained tranquil
after insurrection and massacre were raging unchecked in the northwest.
Sir Henry Lawrence, a man of great decision and firmness united to
pleasant and conciliating manners, had, when the Sepoys began to hold
nightly meetings and to exhibit signs of recklessness, toward the end of
April, telegraphed to government for full power to act; and having
obtained the required authorization, he awaited with calmness the first
sign of insubordination. This was exhibited by the men of the Seventh Oude
Irregular Infantry, who on the 3d of May endeavored to seduce the men of
the Forty-eighth Native Regiment from its allegiance, and broke out into
acts of open mutiny. Sir Henry Lawrence the same evening marched the
Thirty-second Foot and and a battery of European artillery, with some
native regiments to their lines, three miles from the city, surrounded and
disarmed them, and arrested their ringleaders. After this act of decision
and energy, Lucknow had peace for some time. The native troops, awed and
subdued, remained tranquil, and on the 27th of May Lucknow still remained
quiet, whereas every other station in Oude, except Cawnpore, was in the
hands of the rebels.
At the same time every preparation had been made for the struggle which
all regarded as inevitable. The houses which formed two sides of the large
irregular square in the center of which stood the Residency were connected
by earthworks, and a breastwork, composed of sandbags and fascines,
surrounded the other sides. Stores of provisions were collected, cattle
driven in, and every preparation made for a lengthened defense. The
cantonments were three miles distant from the Residency, and were occupied
by the Thirteenth, Forty-eighth, and Seventy-first Native Infantry and
Seventh Native Cavalry. Her majesty's Twenty-second Regiment, a battery of
European artillery, and a small force of native horse.
On the evening of the 30th of May the revolt broke out. It began in the
lines of the Seventy-first, and spread at once to the other native
regiments, who took up arms, fired the bungalows, and killed all the
officers upon whom they could lay hands. Happily all was in readiness, and
a company of European troops, with two guns, took up their post on the
road leading to the city, so as to bar the movement of the mutineers in
that direction. Nothing could be done till morning, when Sir Henry
Lawrence, with a portion of the Thirty-second, and the guns, moved to
attack the mutineers. The British were joined by seven hundred men of the
various regiments, who remained true to their colors, and the mutineers at
once fled, with such rapidity that, although pursued for seven miles, only
thirty prisoners were taken.
The troops then marched quickly back to the Residency, where their
presence was much needed, as there was great excitement in the town, and a
good deal of fighting between the police and the roughs of the city, who
endeavored to get up a general rising and an indiscriminate plunder of the
town. Sir Henry Lawrence upon his return restored order, erected a large
gallows outside the fort and hung some of the rioters, executed a dozen of
the mutinous Sepoys, rewarded those who had remained faithful, and for a
time restored order. All the European residents in Lucknow were called
into the lines of the Residency, the small European force being divided
between that post and the Mutchee Bawn, a strong fort three-quarters of a
mile distant, and the remnant of the native infantry regiments who had so
far remained true, but who might at any moment turn traitors, were offered
three months' leave to go home to their friends. Many accepted the offer
and left, but a portion remained behind, and fought heroically through the
siege by the side of the whites. Thus one source of anxiety for the
garrison was removed; and safe now from treachery within, they had only to
prepare to resist force from without.
So determined was the front shown by the little body of British that
Lucknow, with its unruly population of over a quarter of a million,
remained quiet all through the month of June. It was not until the last
day of the month that the storm was to burst. On the 30th a body of
insurgent Sepoys, some seven or eight thousand strong, having approached
to Chinhut, within a few miles of the town, Sir Henry Lawrence, with two
companies of the Thirty-second, eleven guns, some of them manned by
natives, and eighty native cavalry, went out to give them battle.
The affair was disastrous; the native cavalry bolted, the native gunners
fled, and after a loss of sixty men, three officers, and six guns, the
British troops with difficulty fought their way back to the Residency. The
rebels entered the town in triumph, and the city at once rose, the
respectable inhabitants were killed, the bazaar looted, and then, assured
of success, the enemy prepared to overwhelm the little British garrison.
Immediately upon the return of the defeated column, it became evident that
the weakened force could not hold the two positions. Accordingly the
Mutchee Bawn was evacuated, its great magazine, containing two hundred and
forty barrels of powder and six hundred thousand rounds of ammunition, was
blown up, and the British force was reunited in the Residency.
In order that the position of affairs in this, perhaps the most remarkable
siege that ever took place, should be understood, it is as well to give a
full description of the defenses. The Residency and its surroundings
formed an irregular, lozenge-shaped inclosure, having its acute angles
nearly north and south, the southern extremity being contiguous to the
Cawnpore Road, and the northern point approaching near to the iron bridge
over the river Goomtee. Near the south point of the inclosure was the
house of Major Anderson, standing in the middle of a garden or open court,
and surrounded by a wall; the house was defended by barricades, and
loopholed for musketry, while the garden was strengthened by a trench and
rows of palisades. Next to this house, and communicating with it by a hole
in the wall, was a newly constructed defense work called the Cawnpore
Battery, mounted with guns, and intended to command the houses and streets
adjacent to the Cawnpore Road. The house next to this, occupied by a Mr.
Deprat, had a mud wall, six feet high and two and a half thick, built
along in front of its veranda, and this was continued to the next house,
being raised to the height of nine feet between the houses, and loopholed
for musketry. This next house was inhabited by the boys from the
Martinière School. It was defended by a stockade and trench, both of which
were continued across a road which divided this house from the next, which
stood near the western angle, and was the brigade messhouse. This house
had a lofty and well-protected terrace, commanding the houses outside the
inclosure. In its rear were a number of small buildings, occupied by
officers and their families.
Next to the brigade messhouse were two groups of low buildings, called the
Sikh Squares, and on the flat roofs of these buildings sandbag parapets
were raised. Next to this, at the extreme western point, stood the house
of Mr. Gubbins, the commissioner, a strong building, defended with
stockades, and having at the angle a battery, called Gubbins' Battery.
Along the northwestern side were a number of yards and buildings, the
racket-court, the sheep-pens, the slaughter-house, the cattle-yard, a
storehouse for the food for the cattle, and a guardhouse; and behind them
stood a strong building known as Ommaney's house, guarded by a deep ditch
and cactus hedge, and defended with two pieces of artillery. A mortar
battery was planted north of the slaughter-house. Next along the line was
the church, converted now into a granary, and in the churchyard was a
mortar battery. Next came the house of Lieutenant Innis, a weak and
difficult post to hold, commanded as it was by several houses outside the
inclosure. Commanding the extreme north point, which was in itself very
weak, was the Redan Battery, a well-constructed work. From this point,
facing the river, was a strong earthwork, and outside the sloping garden
served as a glacis, and rendered attack on this side difficult. Near the
eastern angle stood the hospital, a very large stone building, formerly
the banqueting-hall of the British residents at the court of Oude. Near
the hospital, but on lower ground, was the Bailey Guard. Dr. Fayrer's
house, south of the hospital, was strongly built, and from its terraced
roof an effective musketry fire could be kept up on an enemy approaching
on this side. Next to it came the civil dispensary, and then the post
office, a strong position, defended by a battery. Between this and the
south corner came the financial office, Sago's house, the judicial office,
and the jail. The Residency, a spacious and handsome building, stood in
the center of the northern portion of the inclosure, surrounded by
gardens. It was on elevated ground, and from its terraced roof a splendid
view of the city and surrounding country could be obtained. The begum's
khotee, or ladies' house, stood near the center of the inclosure; it was a
large building, and was used as a commissariat store and for the dwellings
of many officers' families. Thus it will be seen that the Residency at
Lucknow, as defended against the insurgents, comprised a little town
grouped round the dwelling of the Resident.
In this little circle of intrenchments were gathered, on the 1st of July,
when the siege began, over a thousand women and children, defended by a
few hundred British troops and civilians, and about a hundred and fifty
men remaining faithful from the Sepoy regiments. Upon that day the enemy
opened fire from several batteries. A shell penetrated the small room in
the Residency in which Sir Henry Lawrence was sitting, and passed between
him and his private secretary, Mr. Cowper. His officers begged him to
change his room, but he declined to do so, saying laughingly that the room
was so small that there was no chance of another shell finding its way in.
He was, however, mistaken, for the very next day a shell entered, and
burst in the room, the fragments inflicting a mortal wound upon Sir Henry,
who died a few hours afterward. The loss was a heavy one indeed, both to
the garrison, to whom his energy, calmness, and authority were invaluable,
and to England, who lost in him one of her noblest and most worthy sons.
On his death the command of the defense devolved upon Colonel Inglis, of
the Thirty-second Regiment, a most gallant and skillful officer. After
this, day after day the fighting had continued, the enemy ever gaining in
numbers and in strength, erecting fresh batteries, and keeping up a
ceaseless fire night and day upon the garrison.
The Warreners with their guide experienced the difficulties which this
increased activity of the attack caused to emissaries trying to enter or
leave the Residency. After it had become dark they swam the Goomtee, and
made a wide circuit, and then tried to approach the river again opposite
the Residency. Several batteries, however, had been erected on this side
since the guide had left, five days before, and these were connected by a
chain of sentries, so closely placed that it would have been madness to
endeavor to pass them unseen. It was clear that the mutineers were
determined to cut off all communication to or from the garrison. The
little party skirted the line of sentries, a line indicated clearly enough
by the bivouac fires on the near side of them. Round these large numbers
of mutineers were moving about, cooking, smoking, and conversing.
"It is hopeless to attempt to get through here," said Ned.
"We will go on to the road leading to the iron bridge," the guide replied;
"we can follow that to the river and then slip aside."
Here, however, they were foiled again, as fires were lighted and there
were sentries on the road to forbid all except those on business to pass.
Presently a body of men came along, bearing shell upon their heads for the
service of the batteries on the other side of the river.
"Whence are they fetching these?" Ned asked the guide.
"From the king's magazine, a quarter of a mile away to the right. They are
taking ammunition, now, for the bridge is within four hundred yards of the
Redan battery, and they cannot cross at daylight under fire."
"Here is a party coming back," Ned said; "let us fall in behind them, go
to the magazine and get shell, and then follow back again till we are
close to the bridge, and trust to luck in getting clear."
The guide assented, and they followed the Sepoys down to the magazine,
keeping a little behind the others, and being the last to enter the yard
where the loaded shell were standing.
Each took a shell and followed closely upon the heels of the party. In the
dark no one noticed the addition to their number, and they passed the
sentries on the road without question. Then they fell a little behind. The
natives paused just before they reached the bridge; for the British
knowing that ammunition was nightly being carried over, fired an
occasional shot in that direction. The party halted under shelter of a
house until a shot flew past, and then hurried forward across the exposed
spot. As they did so, the Warreners and their guide placed the shells they
were carrying on the ground, turned off from the road, climbed a garden
wall, and in a minute were close to the river.
"Go silently," the guide said; "there are some more sentries here."
Stealing quietly along, for they were all shoeless, they could see
crouching figures between them and the water, every twenty yards apart.
"We shall have to run the gantlet, Ned," Dick said. "Our best chance will
be to shove one of these fellows suddenly into the water, jump in and dive
for it. You and I can dive across that river, and we shall come up under
the shadow of the opposite bank."
Ned spoke to the guide.
"The water is shallow for the first few yards, sahib, but we shall get
across that into two feet, which is deep enough for us, before the
sentries have recovered from their surprise. They are sure to fire at
random, and we shall be out of the water on the other side before they
have loaded again."
The plan agreed to, they stripped off their uniforms, and crept quietly
along until they were close to a sentry. Then with a bound they sprang
upon him, rolled him over the bank into the shallow water, and dashed
forward themselves at the top of their speed.
So sudden was their rush that they were knee-deep before the nearest
sentry fired, his ball whizzing over their heads as they threw themselves
face downward in the stream, and struck out under water.
Even when full the Goomtee is not more than ninety yards wide, and from
the point where they started to equally shallow water on the other side
was now not more than forty. The boys could both dive that distance; but
their guide, although a good swimmer, was a less expert diver, and had to
come twice to the surface for breath. He escaped, however, without a shot;
for, as they had expected, the report of the musket was followed by a
general volley in the direction of the splash, by all the sentries for
some distance on either side. Therefore, when the party rose from the
water, and dashed up the other bank, not a shot greeted them. It was clear
running now, only a hundred yards up the slope of the garden, to the
"We are friends!" the boys shouted as they ran, and a cheer from the men
on watch greeted them. A few shots flew after them from the other side of
the river, but these were fired at random, and in another minute the party
had scrambled over the earthwork and were among friends.
Hearty were the hand-shakes and congratulations bestowed upon them all;
and as the news that messengers had arrived flew like wild-fire round the
line of trenches, men came running down, regardless of the bullets which,
now that the enemy were thoroughly roused up, sang overhead in all
"We won't ask your message," was the cry, "till you have seen the colonel;
but do tell us, is help at hand?"
"English general coming," the native guide said.
"Yes," Ned said, as delighted exclamations at the news arose; "but not
yet. Do not excite false hopes among the ladies; some time must pass
before help arrives. I must not say more till I have seen Colonel Inglis;
but I should be sorry if false hopes were raised."
Cloaks were lent to the boys, and they were taken at once to the
Residency, and along passages thronged with sleepers were conducted to
Colonel Inglis' room. He had already heard that the native messenger had
returned, with two Englishmen in disguise, and he was up and ready to
receive them--for men slept dressed, and ready for action at a moment's
"Well done, subadar," he exclaimed, as the native entered; "you have nobly
earned your step in rank and the five thousand rupees promised to you.
Well, what is your message?"
"The General Sahib bids me say that he is coming on to Lucknow with all
speed. Cawnpore was taken four days before I left. The Nana has fled from
Bithoor, and all goes well. These officers have further news to give you."
"I am indeed glad to see you, gentlemen," Colonel Inglis said, warmly
shaking them by the hand. "Whom have I the pleasure of seeing, for at
present your appearance is admirably correct as that of two Sepoys?"
"Our name is Warrener," Ned said; "we are brothers. I have just been
gazetted to the Sixty-fourth; my brother is a midshipman. We have a
message for your private ear, sir; and if I might suggest, it would be
better to keep our native friend close by for a few minutes, lest his news
spread. You will see the reason when we have spoken to you."
Colonel Inglis gave the sign, and the other officers retired with the
"Our message, sir, is, I regret to say, far less favorable than that
transmitted by the subadar, and it was for that reason that General
Havelock sent us with him. If taken, he would have told his message, for
the general had ordered him to make no secret of his instructions if he
fell into the enemy's hands, as it was desirable that they should believe
that he was about to advance, and thus relieve the pressure upon you by
keeping a large force on the road up from Cawnpore. But in fact, sir,
General Havelock bids us tell you that he cannot advance. He has but a
thousand bayonets fit for service. He must hold Cawnpore, and the force
available for an advance would be hopelessly insufficient to fight his way
through Oude and force a road through the city. The instant he receives
reinforcements he will advance, and will in the meantime continue to make
feints, so as to keep a large force of the enemy on the alert. He fears
that it may be a month before he will be able to advance to your aid with
a chance of success."
"A month!" Colonel Inglis said; "that is indeed a long time, and we had
hoped that already help was at hand. Well, we must do our best. We are
even now sorely pressed; but I doubt not we can hold out for a month.
General Havelock cannot accomplish impossibilities, and it is wonderful
that he should have recaptured Cawnpore with so small a force."
"We thought it better to give you this news privately, colonel, in order
that you might, should you think fit, keep from the garrison the knowledge
that so long a time must elapse without succor."
"You were quite right, sir," Colonel Inglis said; "but the truth had
better be made public. It is far better that all should know that we are
dependent upon our own exertions for another month than that they should
be vainly looking for assistance to arrive. And now, gentlemen, I will
call my officers in, and you shall get some clothes. Unhappily, death is
so busy that there will be no difficulty in providing you in that respect.
You must want food, too, and that, such as it is, is in plenty also."
The other officers were now called in, and the commandant told them the
news that he had received from the Warreners. There was a look of
disappointment for a moment, and then cheering answers that they were all
good for another month's fighting were made.
"I know, gentlemen," Colonel Inglis said, "our thoughts are all the same.
We are ready to fight another month, but we dread the delay for the sake
of the women and children. However, God's will be done. All that men can
do, this garrison will, I know, do; and with God's help, I believe that
whether aid comes a little sooner or later, we shall hold these battered
ruins till it arrives. Captain Fellows, will you get these officers
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