[ Indian Mutiny, unpublished letters ] The Indian Mutiny Letters of 'a Delhi spearman', 1857 to 1859: ' the pleasure it gives you in killing these brutes'

Author: 
Captain Piers Thursby of the 9th Lancers:
Publication details: 
1857-9.
£5,500.00
SKU: 23059

A. BACKGROUNDAt his death in 1904 Piers Thursby, Esq., of Broadwell, Gloucestershire, was a respectable member of the local gentry, the brother of a baronet, a Justice of the Peace, active with his wife in church affairs, and taking a benevolent interest in the welfare of local children and the conditions of the inmates of the workhouse. In contrast, as these letters reveal, half a century previously he had enjoyed a good deal of 'fun' as a captain in the 9th Lancers, slaughtering 'Pandies', 'niggers', 'treacherous murderous brutes' and 'black Cawnpore murderers' during the Indian Mutiny. Among his exploits, he boasts in these letters of burning 'a lot of villages', and almost decapitating one man before running through another and his wife at the same time. '[Y]ou have no idea', he tells his father, 'the pleasure it gives you in killing these brutes especially in running your sword through them.' When his father, a vicar, protests, he responds: 'Niggers at least very few cannot understand kindness'.There would appear to be no other primary material giving such a vivid and unfiltered picture of the casual racism of the British Army officer class during the Indian Mutiny, and conveying with such immediacy the harsh day-to-day practicalities of the brutal campaign. The account in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the regimental history ('The Ninth Queen's Royal Lancers 1715-1936' by Major E. W. Sheppard, Aldershot, 1939) was clearly not written to tarnish reputations. The only comparable material is the letters sent from Thursby's commander, Brevet-Major O. H. S. G. Anson, to his wife, published by his son in 1896 under the title 'With H.M. 9th Lancers during the Indian Mutiny'. Anson's letters are relatively unguarded - like Thursby's they were not intended for general circulation - but must surely have been stripped of any 'difficult' material. On their recent republication Anson's letters were described by the publisher as 'all but unique' and 'a nonpareil record of the mutiny as a cavalry officer and mounted regiment experienced it'; they are however insipid in comparison with Thursby's. (The last of Anson's letters is dated 25 March 1858, at which point only the twelfth of Thursby's twenty-seven letters has been reached. Anson makes two references to Thursby.)Captain Piers Thursby (1834-1904), 9th Lancers, was one of the eight children of Rev. William Thursby (1795-1884), and was born at Birkington Rectory, Somerset. Three of his brothers were military men, the eldest, Colonel Sir John Hardy Thursby, 1st Bt (1826-1901), inheriting the family home of Ormerod House, Burnley, Lancashire. The first three letters in this correspondence were written by Thursby during his four-month journey to India on board the 'Monarch', July to November 1857, on the way to join his new regiment. He embarked at Calcutta, and joined the 9th Lancers at Cawnpore on 17 December 1857. Thursby was joining what was acknowledged at the time to be the crack Indian cavalry regiment, referred to by the natives as the 'Delhi bhala-wallah' or 'Delhi Spearmen', and characterised by one army contemporary (Lt-Col. W. Gordon-Alexander, 93rd Highlanders) as 'the beau-idéal of all that British Cavalry ought to be in Oriental countries'. The 9th would be awarded twelve Victoria Crosses for acts of outstanding courage during the campaign, more than any other cavalry regiment. By the time Thursby joined 'the gallant old Ninth Lancers' at the end of 1857, the regiment had already taken part in the capture of Delhi and the relief of Lucknow. Thursby's memorial in Broadwell church states that he 'was present at the siege and taking of Lucknow, Capture of Bareilly, actions at Shahjehanpore, Shumshabad and other engagements', all of which occurred during what Major Sheppard calls the 'stamping out' the Mutiny.Thursby is an unguarded correspondent, able as we have seen to shock his clerical father, striving to impress his brothers, and unusually candid with his mother and eighteen-year-old sister. In two of the letters he makes critical comments (one about the Times war correspondent W. H. Russell, with whom he dines soon after) which he asks the recipient to suppress. The extracts given in Section C below give a good indication of the tone of the correspondence, but are by no means exhaustive, giving no more than a small part of the total content of the letters, and highlighting the military aspect of the material, while neglecting the descriptions of day-to-day activities and personal aspect of the correspondence.A few salient points will assist in the reading of the extracts. Thursby would appear to have arrived in India with idealistic expectations. At the end of his voyage out, he and the other passengers on the Monarch had 'got the Calcutta papers [...], one person would read them aloud to about twenty listeners, about the heroic conduct of our troops at Delhi, it really surpasses Sebastopol'. On reaching Cawnpore he was proud to join 'my fine old Regt. which is praised by everybody, as they have been through it all'. His first impressions of his comrades are favourable: 'I never saw such a fine looking lot of fellows (all with beards) in my life [...] we are the only European cavalry Regt. here, at least up at the front, & they always sent us to the front with the guns.' By Boxing Day 1857 he can boast of having 'burnt two villages' and stormed a mud fort, in which six sepoys are 'bayoneted them through & through' and two others blown up. In January 1858 he gives his routine, before describing how he has been in charge of the escort of a prominent sepoy: 'I have seen so many hung now, that I really look upon it as a matter of business, as they are such savages'. At the end of the same month he gives a vivid description of what Major Sheppard calls the 'Affair at Shamsabad', during which a friend 'killed six that day with his own hand, but I had only the chance of killing one much to my disgust'. In his next letter, 28 February 1858, after a visit to the site of the massacre there, he expresses the 'pleasure' he had in 'revenging the deaths of our poor women at Cawnpore'. In the same letter he gives an account of what Major Sheppard calls the 'Action at Meanganj', observing of the sepoys: 'they fight very well some times on foot, when you are pursuing them, first of all they turn round fire right in your face, but hardly ever hit, & then they rush at you with their sword, but with a Lance they have no chance nearly all our Officers use them now in action I am having one made, there is no weapon like it for this country, for pursuing these murderers with, how our fellows cut them up, no quarter, it would not be a pleasant thing to see if they were Europeans, but these black Cawnpore murderers I have no pity for'. He is in 'capital health & spirits', and would 'certainly like to serve at home with the 9th. Lancers as long as I can afford it'. At the end of March he describes his part in the assault on Lucknow: ' I was leading a troop, well the first man I came up to, I nearly cut his head off, we then came up with some of their cavalry, but they bolted, & after them we went the pace being tremendous, a Sergt. in my troop got up to one, but I am sorry was shot mortally, by his musket, before he could run him through, but as he was falling, I sent my sword right through the brute at the gallop, he had a woman in front of him, I suppose his wife, but I am sorry to say, as I do not like killing the women, that my sword went through them both, I must have been very savage, but when you see your own Capt. killed & a fine young Sergt killed by these brutes, it makes your blood boil [...] I rode a new horse that day [...] he carried me splendidly, & charged the niggers in grand style, knocked lots of them over, jumps well, & very fast, I killed five men that day with my own hand, & my sword was well stained with the scoundrels blood'. In the same letter he also describes the splendours of the abandoned Lucknow. By April he has 'got four Camels' to carry his things, and in the same month he gives a highly-critical account of the command of Brigadier-General Walpole in what Major Sheppard calls the 'costly and easily avoidable repulse before the petty fort of Ruiya', but which he calls 'a Fort called Bhodagar, now called Walpoles Folly'. '[N]one of the officers or men here now', he reports, 'have the slightest confidence in him, the Highlanders say that these men were murdered (by him) & not killed'. Thursby considers it 'the most disgraceful thin[g] that has happened during the whole mutiny', and asks his brother Jimmy, in reporting the affair, not to mention his name, as it 'might get me into trouble'. The letter also describes a later engagement with 'the enemy here in position, with four or five guns, lots of cavalry and about 6000 Infantry', during which the 9th 'actually cut the gunners down on the guns, I have never seen them fight better to protect their guns'. In May he writes to his father from Bareilly: 'This is such a pretty station, but every thing is destroyed, they were not even satisfied with breaking the tomb stones, but actually have dug some of the graves up & thrown the bones about, how they must have hated us, thank goodness we have killed about 600 here altogether you have no idea the pleasure it gives you in killing these brutes especially in running your sword through them.' In his next letter to his father he responds to his protestations: 'I am truly sorry that you did not like the expression I used about running Pandy through the back, I will never use it again, you must not think that I take pleasure in killing them, perhaps I was a little annoyed with them at the time I wrote, some man in my troop very likely he had wounded & killed, but you have no idea my dear Father what treacherous murderous brutes they are, & how they have tortured and wounded our men, as well as murdered women & children, you cannot have much pity for them, people in England know nothing about the Pandies, so far from you thinking that they have been badly treated by the Company's Officers & Civilians, it is just the other way, they were pampered & petted by the Company, in fact they were made a great deal more of than Europeans'. At this point he also notes that he has 'led a troop in every action' he has 'been at'. In a couple of letters he describes the engagements surrounding the raising of the siege of Shahjehanpur, noting that the regiment have 'burnt a lot of villages'. A letter to his mother at the end of June 1858 is critical of the Times War correspondent Russell, whom Thursby describes as a 'regular toady', concluding his attack: 'it is quite disgusting to read the papers out here from home & hear the lies the papers tell, please keep this last part quiet of my letter'. Less than a month later he dines with Russell and Major Alison (a fact also noted in Russell's diary): 'they gave me a capital dinner, & told me capital news, that they thought the war was entirely over, except police work, & that we i e. the 9th would not go out again.' He returns to the question of the treatment of the 'Pandies' in a letter to his father in September 1858, stating that they 'were never punished for things, that a poor European Soldier would get his fifty lashes for. But I know I cannot convince you or the people in England'. He gives 'an instance of the way they are treated by Lord Canning', concerning 'two Pandy regiments at Mooltan'. By now hostilities are over, and he can report that 'General Garratt, who commands the division at Umballah inspected us the day before we left, & gave us no end of soft soap, making a long speech regarding our good conduct in quarters, also our gallant behaviour in the field. ' The last three letters, from early 1859, largely concern Thursby's preparations for his return to 'dear old England'. He feels 'very different to when I first came up to join my Regt. not knowing the country, but now I feel quite an old Indian'. Nevertheless he declares in the last letter: 'how glad I shall be to get out of this country'.B. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTIONTwenty-seven Autograph Letters, totalling 158pp, 12mo, all complete and signed 'Piers Thursby', with a number of additional cross-written pages. The letters are closely written in a tight, legible hand. The correspondence is in good condition, with the inevitable signs of age, and the loss of a very small amount of text from one letter through the breaking open of the wafer.The letters date between 29 July 1857 and 21 March 1859, and comprise: seven from 1857 (29 July; 24 August; 22 and 25 November; 2, 17 and 26 December); seventeen from 1858 (21 and 29 January; 28 February; 14 March; 25 March (misdated to 1857); 10 and 23 April; 10 and 22 May; 1, 16 and 26 June; 9 July; 9 and 25 August; 13 and 27 September); and three from 1859 (18 February, 4 and 21 March).The first seven letters are written to both parents jointly. Of the remaining twenty-one, nine are to Thursby's father; five to his mother; the others to various brothers and a sister: one (Twenty-six) to Arthur [Arthur Harvey Thursby (1832-1909)]; one (Fourteen) to 'Jimmy' [Major James Legh Thursby (1828-1886)] one (Twelve) to John [Colonel Sir John Hardy Thursby, 1st Bt (1826-1901)]; two (Eleven and Twenty-two) to Sophy [Sophia Charlotte Thursby (1840-1891)] (the second to 'My dear little Sophy'); one (Seventeen) to 'Willy' [Reverend William Ford Thursby (1830-1893)].Eleven stamped envelopes are also present (addressed to the various recipients at Ormerod House, Burnley, Lancashire, England), not always matching the letters they contain, most of them endorsed.Accompanying the correspondence is an Autograph Letter in the third person to Thursby's mother from Daniel Sutcliffe, Curate of Worsthorne, Lancashire. Sutcliffe has clearly been lent one of the letters, and he expresses 'the highest respect' for 'the writer', for whom he 'fervently prays': 'May God in mercy preserve him, & speed him well in his noble career!'C. EXTRACTS FROM THE LETTERSOne to Three, from 'On board the Monarch', of which One (29 July 1857), 'Opposite the Isle of Wight'; Two (24 August 1857), 'Lat. 80..30 Long. 25.30'; Three (22 November 1857), 'Off the Hoogley. | Steamer towing' ('Here I am at last [...] after a long & tedious voyage of 120 days [...] we got the Calcutta papers this morning, one person would read them aloud to about twenty listeners, about the heroic conduct of our troops at Delhi, it really surpasses Sebastopol').Four (25 November 1857), Calcutta. 'We disembarked yesterday at 5 P.M., & marched three miles to an eye infirmary for our barracks the patients being all turned out [...] pray do not fret about me, as I am in capital health & spirits thank God, to do my duty with my fine old Regt. which is praised by everybody, as they have been through it all'.Five (2 December 1857), 'Chouparun', written 'about 250 miles up the country'. 'There are two very nice fellows of the 42nd. travelling with me, two officers are put together, in on dray, I am with the interpreter one of the EJC officers, a very nice fellow, we live like fighting cocks, & always buy a lot of fowls & eggs to take with us at night for supper, [...] tearing the unfortunate beasts to pieces with our fingers [...] I have a terrible red beard, which I hope will frighten the Sepoys. [...] one of the Rifles died during the night of cholerel, [sic] if they will only mention it in time it can generally be stopped, yesterday I begged of my men to go immediately to the Dr. if they felt at all uneasy in their bowels, & ten came forward immediately [...] they will drink this nasty milk, & eat the fruit which the natives sell, I am getting on very well with them, & think they will follow me anywhere in the way of fighting'.Six (17 December 1857), Cawnpore. 'Here I am safe & sound with the gallant old Ninth Lancers, we only joined the Regt. this morning, after travelling day & night for three weeks from Calcutta, thank God I am in capital health & first rate spirits [...] I am writing this scrawl on my knee, in Major Powys tent, who now commands the Regt., & he has kindly lent me paper & the use of his tent [...] I never saw such a fine looking lot of fellows (all with beards) in my life [...] we are the only European cavalry Regt. here, at least up at the front, & they always sent us to the front with the guns. The ninth took 26 heavy guns in all the other day, 11 of them on the road to Culpee & the next 1 we took at Serayghat after pursuing the enemy for 15 miles at a hard gal[l]op all the way, I wish I had been with them [...] We march from this in a day or two to Futteyghar w[h]ere some of the Sepoys now are, then I suppose we shall go to Lucknow very likely. The old soldiers here think that the Sepoys cannot hold much longer, as we have now nearly taken all their guns. I like the country very much so far'.Seven (26 December 1857), '[Oothriha?]'. I left Cawnpore Decr. 17th the day after I arrived with three Squadrons of the 9th. Lancers Watsons horse 2 Bat. of the R. Brigade 38ty. Regt. Bouchier battery & 1 troop with 4 guns under the command of Brigadier Walpole of the Rifle brigade. The Army here is divided into six Brigades, & we are the 6th., & they have now sent three or four of these brigades all over the country, to destroy all straggling Sepoys & burn all villages against us. [...] we went out the other day, & burnt two villages, one with a great deal of powder in, which exploded. We only got a few prisons, [sic] which were only villagers, the few Sepoys there were escaped & crossed the river Gumna close by & then fired about ten shots at us, but luckily only shot one horse through the [head?], we were obliged to withdraw as we could not cross the river, I got hold of an idol, which was taken in one of the villages, some of the men got lots of things, we returned back to Camp again at 5 OC in the evening, after having been about 80 miles, all this happened on Christmas day [...] Decber. 30th. [...] I am writing this letter at a place called Etawah before the mutiny commenced it was a large European station, but there is not a European to be seen now, & all their houses have been burnt down, also the church [...] As soon as we arrived here yesterday an old Rajah immediately appeared & asked the Brigadier to attack a mud fort in the village, which had 30 Sepoys in, all the rest of them (2000 in number) had bolted the day before with six large guns, so we were just too late. Well! one Company of the Rifles, & my Troop & two guns, were to go to the village & attack this place, one [of] the guns soon blew the gates open, & then in dashed the Rifles, but could only find six Sepoys, which had no mercy shewn to them I can assure you, the men bayoneted them through & through, & two more we were obliged to blow up, in a mud house, with only a narrow entrance, as three men were wounded in attempting to go in, as they shot at the first man he shewed himself [...] I am very comfortable & jolly here now in camp'.Eight (21 January 1858), from 'Head Quarters | Camp Futtyghar' (endorsed 'Recovered from the wreck of the Ava). To his mother: 'We have now been encamped here, nearly three weeks, what for nobody knows, except Sir Colin, I suppose it is to let the other columns have time to get round Lucknow, so as we can completely surround the place, after they are all driven into their stronghold, to assault the city, if that is Sir Colin's object as every body thinks it is, we shall make short work of the Pandies i e Sepoys, as all that escape from the Infantry, the cavalry will cut up, as the place will be completely surrounded [...] as I told you all about the marching & fighting in my last letter, In camp we have nothing to do all day except two Parades & day for inspecting, I generally get up at 7 A.M., parade at 8. A.M., & then go out riding till 10. A.M., breakfast, smoke a cheroot which I am thankful to say we have plenty of now, read old English papers, or a Book if I can get one in my tent, or write letters if there is not too much dust, which I find hard work to do, have a bath at 4 oclock, which is done by the beasty i e water carrier throwing water over you, parade at 4.30, & then stables, & ride till dinner time to lead the band play, dine at 6. Oc. which is the best part of the day in India, being all together at mess, where we have a little chaff amongst ourselves, & are very jolly. I get on very well with all the fellows, & like them very much. [...] I expect we shall march in two or three days. You have no idea how the Sepoys have destroy [sic] everything anything in the shape of an European bungalow stables, or anything belonging to Government is burnt, and knocked to pieces, but they are being justly chastised for it now, everyday the Judge hangs a lot in the city, I was sent on escort the other day with 17 men to escort the Nawah brother of this place to be hung and took him right through the city for an example, he was hung, but did not seem to care much about it, except once or twice he turned very white, I should think the only time he ever looked respectable. I have seen so many hung now, that I really look upon it as a matter of business, as they are such savages.'Nine (29 January 1858), from 'Head Quarters | Camp Futtyghar'. To his father: 'Since I last wrote, we have had a sharp fight with the Sepoys, ['Affair at Shamsabad'] which came off the day before yesterday, the 27th. Two Squadrons of my Regt. with some guns, 42nd. & 53 Foot, where [sic] ordered to march at ten oclock at night, in light marching order without tents, I only knew one hour beforehand that I was to go, as everything was kept so quiet, so as to take the enemy by surprise, it was not very pleasant, leaving a comfortable tent behind. Well we marched all night in he direction of a place called Mough, [Anson has 'Mhow'] & dreadful cold work it was, at five oclock in the morning we were obliged to hold for two hours, on account of a very heavy mist coming on, [...] Well we advanced with the guns in front, & cavalry next, when we soon saw Mr Sepoy, in a very commanding position, they soon opened fire at us with round shot, & made excellent practice, too good to be pleasant, as they left hopping over our heads, one shot came right into the middle of the next squadron to mine, about twenty years from me, & took one of our poor fellows head clean off, an officer of the Irregulars also had his leg taken clean off, killing his horse in the bargain, the poor fellow died in the evening, we soon changed our position & got out of their fire, [...] our guns soon opened fire on them, & settled all their guns in about 3/4 of an hour blowing up two of their magazines [...] poor Steele a Capt. in my Regt. was severely wounded, a Sepoy rushed at him with one of those horrid curved swords of theirs & cut his reins, of course he then lost all command of his horse, which kept turning round & round with him, with this fellow cutting & hacking away at him, he nearly cut his hand off, also made a terrible gash on his thigh right into the bone, also a cut each side of his face, he is now doing very well, & will not lose the use of any of his limbs [...] one of Hodsons horse who I dare say you hear a great deal about in England, was looking on all the time, & never came to help him, they are not the slightest good, except for plundering [...] The Squadron which I was in, was ordered to support the guns, which we did, but missed a good deal of the fun, in the way of killing the wretches, my friend Morrogh [Anson spells this 'Murragh'] killed six that day with his own hand, but I had only the chance of killing one much to my disgust, we were all dreadfully annoyed when we were ordered to remain with the guns, I do not think that the Infantry hardly fired a shot, as it was all over by the time, they came up. We should have killed about 200 more of them, if the other Squadron had not been ordered back. So ended the fight, after taking all their guns, four in number, & 350 killed our two Squadrons with the artillery were then sent on, & marched ten miles further, but could not see anything more them, so returned all dreadfully tired, both horses & men, after being in the saddles for twenty hours, with hardly anything to eat or drink, we encamped that night, just by the side of the camp the Sepoys had left & was very glad to get a cup of tea, but I could not eat, being regularly done up, with a dreadful bad head ache, from the excitement & exposure to the sun, I got my servant to make me a little place of straw to sleep under, & had 12 good hours sleep, & was all right the next morning. We lost one man killed & two wounded also 1 officer wounded. The next morning we left for camp again, but I am sorry to say that thirteen men of the 53rd. Foot were blown up while putting some ammunition down a well that morning some iron must have knocked together & set the gunpowder off, but nobody can account for it, eight of the poor fellows who were blown up are sure to die, was not it a dreadful way of losing thirteen fine fellows they were brought into camp as black as coals, with all their clothes burnt. [...] I believe we are to proceed to Lucknow, which is to be surrounded, it is a very strong place, much stronger than Delhi, but we have lots of guns, & a good many Siege guns, there will be hard fighting [...]'.Ten (28 February 1858), 'Nevelgunge [Anson has 'Newelgunge' and 'Noelgunge'] | 10 miles from Lucknow'. To his father: 'The last letter I wrote home was from Head Quarters at Futtyghar, telling about a month ago, telling you all about the first fight I was in, near Mough, a place called Shumshabad ['Affair at Shamsabad'], 20 miles from Futtyghar w[h]ere we licked the Pandies well, killed 300 of them & taking four guns, I had the pleasure of revenging the deaths of our poor women at Cawnpore [...] Three days after that fight, we left for Cawnpore, to escort Sir Colin Campbell, it is 90 miles we did it in four days [...] we only remained in Cawnpore one day, I had just time to visit Wheelans intrenchment, also the place w[h]ere the massacre took place, & the well, they were all thrown down, where a large monument is to be erected the shed that the poor women were murdered in is all pulled down so there is not much to be seen now. [...] we arrived at a place called Meargunge ['Action at Meanganj'] on the 23rd about 10 miles from w[h]ere we are now halted, at which place there was a large brick fort, a very strong place filled with Pandies, well we immediately surrounded the place with cavalry, & two 18 Pounders immediately commenced firing at a distance of 300 yards, just out of shot of their musketry, the guns were manned by the Royal Artillery under the command of Major Anderson R.A., and after firing for 50 minutes made a splendid breach, which was then assaulted, & carried in gallant style by that well known Regt. the 53rd, the finest looking fellows I have seen for a long time, what a cheer they dashed in with, they soon drove Mr Pandy out of his fort, after killing a lot of them inside. I am sorry to say that they had one officer mortally wounded, shot in the stomach, & 14 men severely wounded, the Pandies then bolted all over the country, but the cavalry or the old 9th. Lancers with that deadly weapon the Lance were ready for them, we pursued them in all directions, cutting up about 500 of them, so ended the battle, we had two men severely wounded, also the 7th. Hussars had two wounded, & Capt Coles of ours had his horse ham strung, by a with a sword, so was obliged to shoot him the handiest horse in the Regt., they fight very well some times on foot, when you are pursuing them, first of all they turn round fire right in your face, but hardly ever hit, & then they rush at you with their sword, but with a Lance they have no chance nearly all our Officers use them now in action I am having one made, there is no weapon like it for this country, for pursuing these murderers with, how our fellows cut them up, no quarter, it would not be a pleasant thing to see if they were Europeans, but these black Cawnpore murderers I have no pity for [...] I supported the guns with my troop, so had not much fun. One of our fellow[s] a Subaltern, Evans, lanced nine fellows & shot two, not bad work. In the evening after it was all over I went into the fort with Evans, although very tired, & a bad headache with the sun, & found some of the 53rd. trying to get some of the Pandies out of a house, they had hidden themselves there, but when they were found out kept firing at us through a small door, but we soon burnt them out, & out they bolted sword in hand, but were immediately shot down like rabbits by the 53rd. [...] we are now encamped [...] about 10 miles from Lucknow, [...] I expect Sir Colin will soon commence operations against Lucknow, which is a very strong place, much stronger than Delhi [...] we have lots of work to do, with no excitement, two patrols go out every day, which is no joke in the sun, & it comes to me every three days, you have no idea of the sun here in England my poor nose has suffered dreadfully, the skin comes off every two days [...] I am in capital health & spirits [...] I should certainly like to serve at home with the 9th. Lancers as long as I can afford it'Eleven (14 March 1858), 'Head Quarters | Camp before Lucknow'. To his sister Sophy: 'Here we are fighting away day after day, there is nothing but the roaring of cannons, & musketry fire to be heard all day [...] after the Battle of Meeangunge [...] three days after the fight we left for Head Quarters that was about 10 miles from Lucknow, I was on rear guard that night & did not get into camp till nine oclock at night, dreadfully tired hungry and thirsty, but they did not give us much rest as we started again the next morning at 4 A.M. with Sir Colin, and a lot of Infantry Regts to take up a position against Lucknow, a place called the Delkhosha we had to take, as we were approaching a very heavy shower of rain came on & wet us all completely to the skin, which rather chilled my pluck, we had not to go much farther when Pandy opened fire at our advanced guard with a 6 pounder & musketry, we were then ordered to the front, with the Horse Artillery, & soon drove the s back, with very little loss, some horses were killed - gunner & one of our men had the whole of his lower jaw taken away by a round shot, wonderful he is alive still, & doing well, the bullets were whistling about all day any thing but pleasant, we then advanced & took the Delkhosha without any loss we were kept under a wall all day in a burning sun, round shot coming over our heads in fine style one dropt right into the middle of one of our Squadrons, but wonderful to say it did not hit any body, two poor sailors were knocked over only four yards from me, they were sitting underneath a tree resting themselves, & I was watering my horse in a pool of water, when a round shot came & took, one mans head off, & the others leg [...] the Pandies generally both as we advance, they cannot stand the yell our fellows give when they charge, there is very heavy firing going on day and night we have got some 68 Pounders, which make a most tremendous row. [...]'.Twelve ('March 25th. 1857 [sic, for 1858]'), from 'Head Quarters | Camp before Lucknow'. To his brother John (with confused valediction: 'Believe me | My dear John | Yr affec[tion]ate. Son'): Amidst much talk of family news he writes that his regiment have 'had so much hard work & fighting lately, that when we do have a day in camp, I am only too glad to lay on my back, as the heat is truly tremendous'. He reports: 'The first assault on Lucknow took place on the 7th. of this month, the martiniere & some very strong earthwork's [sic] were taken the first day with very little loss we then kept on encroaching & taken [sic] forts, & houses strongly fortified every day till the 17th., when the place was entirely taken by us, with the loss of 700 men killed and wounded & 55 officers, it is wonderful how we over took the place, I believe it was a stronger place than Sebastopol, but the Pandies always bolted as soon as our men advanced, the brutes made no end of mines, & a good many of our poor fellows I am sorry to say, were blown up, I went to see them in the hospital the other day, it was an awful sight, they were all as black as coals, & suffered dreadfully, also a great many poor fellows with frightful wounds one poor fellow of my regiment had the whole of his jaw carried away by a round shot but is doing well. [...] Mr. Russell the Times Correspondent, will give you a much better account than I can give, there has been more than 100 guns taken in Lucknow, some very large ones, some of the buildings are splendid, especially the Kaiserbagh or residence of the king, some of the rooms are splendid chandeliers with thousands of drops hang from the ceilings, the floors are of the whitest marble, and the walls covered with mirrors in the most costly frames, the court yards are beautifully laid out and planted with shrubs of the most delicious perfumes, the orange groves are full of marble statues after the Italian masters, there are no end of fountains & canals.' State of Lucknow: 'it is entirely in our hands now, the townspeople merchants & bankers & every body have bolted, the place is riddled with our round shot, 68 16, & 10 Inch Mortars are no joke, we have lost some very fine fellows, & I fear have not killed very many of the Sepoys, & should hardly think that 3000 have been killed.' He describes how less than a week before, on 19 March, 'two Squadrons of the 9th. Lancers under the command of Capt. Coles, myself being one of the number, were ordered to March at 4 oclock in the morning, to join General Outram who had some Infantry & guns with time, to drive [...] the Sepoys out of the Moosha Bergh [other sources have 'Moosabagh'], at extreme end of the town, which we did & began bolting in thousands, we were immediately ordered to pursue, without any support a great shame, some guns were ordered to go with us, but they never came, well away we galloped for four miles before we got into the middle of them, having taken a lot of their guns on the way, my poor Capt. was mortally wounded almost directly by a lance, which went right into the corner of his eye, he was leading the squadron I was in, & I was leading a troop, well the first man I came up to, I nearly cut his head off, we then came up with some of their cavalry, but they bolted, & after them we went the pace being tremendous, a Sergt. in my troop got up to one, but I am sorry was shot mortally, by his musket, before he could run him through, but as he was falling, I sent my sword right through the brute at the gallop, he had a woman in front of him, I suppose his wife, but I am sorry to say, as I do not like killing the women, that my sword went through them both, I must have been very savage, but when you see your own Capt. killed & a fine young Sergt killed by these brutes, it makes your blood boil, well we were obliged to retreat a little as we got close to a village, where the bullets where too many for us, we then went on & cut up about an 100 of them, till at last we were obliged to retreat slowly on account of the bad ground nothing but ravines, villages & clumps of trees, we charged 1000 Sepoys within sixty yards of them, when we were stopped by a frightful ravine, they immediately gave us three or four most frightful volleys, & fired grape at us from a village some distance off, but which came too close to be pleasant, the bullets luckily came over our heads, as they generally do, they whizz [last word deleted] flew about me in all directions, anything but pleasant old fellow, I certainly would rather have been enjoying my self at Dickies wedding at the time, it is dangerous work old fellow and you are well out of it, it would have been ten to 1 against your life, if you had remained in the 90th. they have had eight officers killed, & two have died, since they landed in this country, I often see them, & remembered you kindly to them all as you wished [...] Well we were obliged to retire at last, having no support & having the greatest difficulty to get away our wounded, one poor fellow was cut up by the brutes, before we could get him away, & a Capt. & Sergt. mortally, both of them poor fellows died two days afterwards, poor Hutchinson my Capt. was quite insensible for the two days he was alive a sad thing, a good natured fellow & liked by every body, especially by his troop. I rode a new horse that day for the first time H[eigh]t 15 .. 3 Stud bred, I took him out of the ranks so only had to pay 600 Rs, he carried me splendidly, & charged the niggers in grand style, knocked lots of them over, jumps well, & very fast, I killed five men that day with my own hand, & my sword was well stained with the scoundrels blood, if we had been properly supported, & had some guns we should have killed no end, but it was two squadrons of cavalry about 140 strong against 15000 as it was we took twelve guns & killed an hundred, if they had got any pluck in them, they might have mopped us all up, Sir Colin was very much disgusted, so was General Outram at us not being supported, [...] we did not get home that night till 9 oclock, after being in the saddle for 15 hours, with nothing for our horses, or selves to eat, [...] I have seen quite enough of it, in the way of fighting, I have now been in six or seven irregular battles, [...] The 7th. Hussars with some guns had a fight the other day, the enemy attacked their guns, & really fought well, three officers of the 7th. Hussars were badly wounded, & 25 men killed & wounded, poor Bankes a Lt was nearly cut to pieces, he has already had one arm and a leg cut off, I believe the others are both to come off, as soon as he is fit for the operation, he is doing well, Slade & Peter Wilkin are also wounded, but not very badly, I believe they were very badly handled by a certain Brigadier, but I will not mention names. General Grant took 15 guns again the other & killed 200 of the enemy, with very little loss on our side, he is a fine fellow, & the best cavalry man out here'.Thirteen (10 April 1858), 'Moveable Column | En route for Bareilly 15 miles from Lucknow, 160 miles to the former place'. To his father: 'We left Lucknow yesterday, and force is composed, of the Highland Brigade and I think the Rifles are coming, ourselves & no end of guns, we are taking two months provisions with us, and are no doubt bound for Bareilly, where the Pandies are in force, and are said to have an 100 guns, it is the only place of consequence they have now got, so I fear we are to have a summer campaign of it [...] Sir Colin I believe is all against it, I think that Ld. Canning only wants us to go, so the [talk?] goes. You have no idea what it is my dear Father, marching & fighting in this sun now, the hot weather is regularly commenced, but it agrees with [me] capitally as yet thank God, as long as I can get a bottle of beer for my dinner [...] I was on rear guard, a most terrible buisness, [sic] as you have to see all the bullock [hachesies?] & Camels Elephants &c safe into camp, [...] you have no idea of the baggage of an Indian army, I have got four Camels to carry my things'.Fourteen (23 April 1858), 'Camp Allyngunge [Aliganj] | Walpoles moveable column'. To his brother 'Jimmy'. They are 'under canvas this hot weather, the Ther[mome]t[er]. runs from 110 Do. to 120 in our tents, & the old Indians say it will be 130 next month [...] we are now halted until further orders in a blazing hot ploughed field, after marching for fifteen days, ten miles a day, nothing particular happened on the road till the 15th. when we attacked a Fort called Bhodagar, now called Walpoles Folly, but had to retire at 5.30 AM. ignominiously to our camp, having 112 killed & wounded & leaving some of our dead on the Field, the fact is that Walpole made a most dreadful mess of it he had no plan of attack, and did not I believe even reconnoitre the place, but banged away at it in any direction with two eighteen Pownders, & sent the 42nd. & Sikhs, [?] right up to the wall of the Fort, two officers of the 42nd. were mortally wounded, dying a few hours afterwards, an officers of the Sikhs was killed in the ditch & worst of all Brigadier Hope 93rd. Highlanders, was shot dead, a fine fellow, & beloved of everybody, & the making of a great man, 17 men I believe were killed dead, & a great many have died since altogether 112 casualties, & never took the Fort after all, none of the officers or men here now have the slightest confidence in him, the Highlanders say that these men were murdered (by him) & not killed, I should say it is the most disgraceful thin[g] that has happened during the whole mutiny, we the 9th. had nothing to do we were waiting for them in the open, in case they bolted, in the sun all day, in the evening it came on to rain, & we all got drenched [...] The Pandies all bolted from the Fort in the night, & so I went to look at it the next morning, & found lots of places were [sic] it might have been assaulted with the greatest ease, in fact a troop of cavalry in threes might have carged in, so much for Walpole, if you tell anyone about this affair, do not mention my name, or you might get me into trouble.'Fifteen (10 May 1858), 'Camp Bareilly | Head Quarters'. To his father: 'Well here we are at Bareilly at last, encamped about two miles from town w[h]ere the Europeans used to live amongst such a lot of pretty gardens & what were once pretty bungalows, but are now nothing but ruins, we arrived here on the 5th. of May, & advanced to w[h]ere we are encamped at about six oclock in the morning in battle array, when they very soon commenced firing at us, our old friend Mr round shot, coming very close to us very often, but only wounding one of our men, taking his leg nearly off. There was hard fighting all day. Our artillery pitching grape into them all day, the two Squadrons of the 9th. I was with, were protecting the right so had not much to do except in keeping their cavalry back, which appeared in great numbers, & tried to attack a small party of our irregulars, about half a mile from us, when we immediately went to their support, galloping up to them in columns of troops, & then formed line when we got near them, but as usual they all bolted, the sneaking cowards, although they were double & treble our numbers I wish they would give us one good charge with their cavalry, but they do not seem to like meeting our Lances. I always carry one now, so do all the officers, it is a splendid weapon for pursuing them, as they then cannot get near you with their swords. About 300 fanatics rushed out and attacked the 42nd. and fought most desperately but they met the[ir] just reward, the 42nd. bayoneting about 200 of them, eight men of the 42nd. were wounded & one killed in this affair, I must tell you that these men who attacked the 42nd. were called Ghazaas [sic] i e Fanatics, whose religion it is to fight till they die, & then they think they go to heaven [...] I saw one of them walk right within 50 yards of the irregulars & then fire into the middle of them, he was very soon surrounded, but he kept about twenty of them at bay for five minutes, by flourishing his sword about in the most frantic manner [...] I have led a troop in every action I [have] been at [...] This is the place where poor Dr Hansbrow (son of the Governor of Lancaster castle) was killed, I believe he was hung in the gaol by the brutes. I went to see the gaol yesterday, Miss Hansbrow his Sister was also here, but all the ladies escaped fortunately to Myree Gal in the hills, sixty miles from this, I hear that a small column is going to leave in a day or two to bring all the ladies down. This is such a pretty station, but every thing is destroyed, they were not even satisfied with breaking the tomb stones, but actually have dug some of the graves up & thrown the bones about, how they must have hated us, thank goodness we have killed about 600 here altogether you have no idea the pleasure it gives you in killing these brutes especially in running your sword through them.'Sixteen (22 May 1858), 'Head Quarters. Camp Shahjahanpore'. To his mother: 'we took this place on our way to Bareilly without any opposition, everybody bolting [...] the N 10 regt. mutinied about this time last year, on a Sunday morning, & murdered all the poor men, women & children in the church, during the morning service, the marks of bullets & sword cuts are still on the church walls, the church the brutes only burnt three days before we arrived here the first time [...] Col Percy Herbert of the 82nd. Foot was sent to take a village for us to place a piquet in, but after taking it without any opposition, contrary to his orders, he took a troop of ours, & went reconnoitering some way beyond it which immediately brought the Pandies out in great force as they thought we were going to attack them, I was awoke by the bang bang of 18 pounders at 4 in the afternoon, the whole camp was immediately turned out, two squadrons of ours which I was with immediately galloped to the front with the guns, and opened fire on them (Tombs troop the crack troop in India) their cavalry were on the plains in immense numbers about 1500 yards from us, we kept pounding away at them, & they at us till about 8 Oclock in the evening, as Sir Colin only wanted to keep his position, we were in the saddle for six hours, and what with getting up at 12.30 the night before, & marching fifteen miles, we were all pretty tired, the Sepoys made very good practice at us, three or four rounds shots came right into our Regt., but wonderful to say, they did not touch any body, one came about a foot from my [?] head, also a poor gunner had his thigh mashed to atoms about six yards in front of me, four gunners were wounded, two mortally, in the evening they all retired, we returned to camp, leaving two heavy guns with some Infantry, to keep them off. [...] The Sepoys declare they will take Lucknow again, & I hear they are getting up three different armies to attack it, but they will meet with a warm reception, I do not know when this will ever end, as they seem to be more numerous than ever & their cavalry keep us continually on the move; but never give us a chance to charge them'.Seventeen (1 June 1858), 'Camp Burree'. To 'My dear Willy' (his brother 'Revd. W. Ford Thursby'): 'many fine fellows have been killed by sunstroke within the last month, 30 men in two Regts. of Infantry were struck down dead by the sun about a week ago, the way these new regt. loose men by sun is truly awful, we lost six men last week, which is a small number to what the Infantry loose [...] Shahjahanpore just the day before we attacked the enemy who was in a strong position the other side of the river, we advanced on them at day light, ourselves with some guns & Irregulars being on the extreme left, Carabineers & some guns on the right, & heavy guns & Infantry in the centre, it was a splendid advance they occupied a strong mud fort, which they soon vacated as we advanced, and did not trouble us much with their round shot only two or three came near me, just to say good morning, so they soon retired as they cannot stand being outflanked, the dust was some thing frightful. I could hardly see a yard before me, their cavalry once made an attempt to get to our rear by our left, but were discovered by Irregulars & charged them once, then bolted, they were very gallantly charged by our Irregulars and killed 25, also their General with them, but the cowards would not come any where near us [...] The next day we marched to a place called Mohundee a great place for the rebels, but they all bolted when we got there, it is a large native town, it was all in flames in the evening, we also burnt a lot of villages & destroyed a strong fort four miles from where we were camped, full of gunpowder & shot four guns buried, also no end of grain full of tame peacocks & pigeons, I bagged 50 pigeons, picked some of the prettiest out to keep, & gave the rest to my troop for a pigeon pie [...] [we] are now encamped with Coke, we are to go towards the Ganges to try & catch a lot of the rebels who have bolted from Calpee, & trying to cross the river into Oude they have 60 elephants with them loaded with loot, & 3000 men'.Eighteen (16 June 1858), 'Meerut'. He reports to his father that, while the 9th were displeased to be ordered to turn back from Umballah, in order 'to go after some Pandies with elephants with Brigadier Cokes Brigade': 'Well Coke took us two or three very long marches, 22 miles on we went, & we were all exposed to the sun till eleven oclock; he was under the delusion that he would catch them, but every place we came to where they had been, they had all bolted 10 days so the villagers said, we were the only Europeans with his Force, all the rest were niggers, so it was too bad knocking us about like that, as we had all our sick men with us'. At Meerut they have been hospitably treated by 'the Carabineers & Bengal Horse Artillery': 'you do not know what a treat to get into a beautiful bungalow, with punkahs going, & all sorts of contrivances to make it cool, Iced soda water & brandy Ice water champagne &c &c &c [...] after being knocked about for six months, especially during this burning heat, in a tent it is frightful'.Nineteen (26 June 1858), 'Umballah'. It is, he tells his mother, 'a treat [...] to have a little rest & sleep, as for the last three months, we have always marched at two oclock every morning, 1st trumpet sounding at one oclock, & it is almost impossible to sleep in a tent in the heat of the day [...] The day the Regt. marched into this place, the General (i e Garratt late Col. of the 46th. Foot, a first rate old fellow) with all his staff, & all officers off duty came to meet us, but unfortunately we came a short cut across country & they came by the regular road & so just missed us, we all marched in looking very wretched, all of us being we to the skin, as it came down in torrents that day, [...] we have also the finest house in India, the 3rd Light Dragoons built it cost them 3000£, we gave them 2000 for it, it is quite a palace [...] Things are beginning to look much better that they did, Sir Hugh Rose has just taken Gwalior a very strong place, & killed the Ranee of Jhansi, that horrid woman, who murdered & tortured our poor women in such an awful way, the Moulvie's head was also brought in the other day, who has led the Pandies in no end of attacks against us. Oude is the only place that will trouble us next cold weather [...] How Russell has written up the 7th Hussars in his letter, & never mentions us in his letters, as we have just done treble the work, he is a regular toady, we never asked him to our mess. In his last letter about the Moosabagh, he says we only pursued the enemy a few miles, cutting up a very few men, the 7th. Hussars he says cut the enemy to pieces, considering we bore the brunt of the day, took eight guns killed nearly 200 Pandies, my poor Capt. was killed 2 men killed & 6 wounded out of 140 men, Brigadier Campbell with 7th Hussars lost 1 his way, he the Brigadier was not to be found for three hours, so never met us with his large free cavalry as ordered, so nearly all the rebels escaped, we were quite outnumbered, as they attacked us in our front & rear and we only had two squadrons, with no support whatsoever, it is quite disgusting to read the papers out here from home & hear the lies the papers tell, please keep this last part quiet of my letter'.Twenty (9 July 1858), 'Simla'. To his mother. Describing 'the beauty of this place', and how he obtained 'leave to the hills for a month': 'I being nearly the Junior Officer in the Regt. did not think of applying, but the old fellows seem to hang back, & did not seem to wish to go till they got a little settled in Umballah, so Chadwick & myself immediately sent in our applications'. He also reports: 'I dined with Major Alison, who is on Sir Colin staff last night, Russell the times correspondence [sic] is living with him the latter is gone in his legs, & can not walk, the former had small pox very bad at Bareilly, they are both here recruiting [sic] their health, tell James that both Russell & Alison remember him in the Crimea, they gave me a capital dinner, & told me capital news, that they thought the war was entirely over, except police work, & that we i e. the 9th would not go out again.'Twenty-one (9 August 1858), 'Umballah'. To his father. 'I hardly ever miss writing by every mail [...] I am truly sorry that you did not like the expression I used about running Pandy through the back, I will never use it again, you must not think that I take pleasure in killing them, perhaps I was a little annoyed with them at the time I wrote, some man in my troop very likely he had wounded & killed, but you have no idea my dear Father what treacherous murderous brutes they are, & how they have tortured and wounded our men, as well as murdered women & children, you cannot have much pity for them, people in England know nothing about the Pandies, so far from you thinking that they have been badly treated by the Company's Officers & Civilians, it is just the other way, they were pampered & petted by the Company, in fact they were made a great deal more of than Europeans, & were let off lots of things that the poor Europeans had to do, just because the Company was afraid of them & gave way to all their whims about Caste. I have talked to a great many Companies officers & other Indians, & they all say that they were treated too well by the Company, the Government would not actually allow their own officers to punish them [...] Niggers at least very few cannot understand kindness, you even ruin your own servants if you are the least kind to them, of course be just & sincere to them, but strict, & then they serve you well. [...] We shall have some very good fun, as we have got a small pack of hounds, at least half bred ones, my brother officers have made me the master of the pack, so I hope with help of my black whipper in to shew some good sport, my whip knows his work well, also rides well, he is a comical figure, as he always goes about in pink, also a hunting cap, boots & breeches'.Twenty-two (25 August 1858), 'Umballah'. To Sophy he declares that 'the monotony of the life I lead now, is very tedious', and then describes his everyday activities.Twenty-three (13 September 1858), 'Umballah'. To his father: 'You are quite under a mistake, when you think that the Pandies were badly treated before the mutiny, they were treated too well both by Pandy officers & [europeans?], & were never punished for things, that a poor European Soldier would get his fifty lashes for. But I know I cannot convince you or the people in England, I will give you an instance of the way they are treated by Lord Canning, there were two Pandy regiments at Mooltan, I really forget their numbers, well they have been disarmed a long time & Lord Canning I believe thought they were quite loyal, so he meant to have them rearmed again, not withstanding their mutinous conduct in two or three instances but they saved him the trouble, & broke out in open mutiny about a fortnight ago, armed with their charpoys legs, made a rush at the Guns, but did not succeed in obtaining them, but brained four or five men of the royal Artillery, killed the Adjutant, & three men of the Bengal Fusiliers, the Sikhs of them, 600 more, have been caught or killed, so there are only about 300 more to account for. What a lucky thing it was they had no arms.'Twenty-four (27 September 1858), 'Camp [Kronaul?]'. To his mother: 'Here I am again under canvas bound to Cawnpore the old Regt. is I believe, some people say we are to join Sir Colin there, & so sweep out Oude with all the Cavalry we can scrape together [...] We left Umballah on the 12th. Inst., started at 3 P.M., & actually mustered 450 men, all together, fit for any service, we marched out of the station, with our band playing the girls we left behind thank goodness this time, did not affect me much, as their [sic] are very few young ladies at Umballah [...] General Garratt, who commands the division at Umballah inspected us the day before we left, & gave us no end of soft soap, making a long speech regarding our good conduct in quarters, also our gallant behaviour in the field. He is a fine old fellow, & much liked by both men & officers, a just, upright, & jolly old fellow, & sings a capital song after mess, he was Colonel of the 46th. Foot of Umballah, & then shook hands heartily with all the Officers.'Twenty-five (18 February 1859), 'Camp Cawnpore'. To his father. 'I hope long before you receive this, that I shall be on the broad ocean en route for old England [...] we are to give up all our horses here, & camp equipage &c &c &c, the Volunteers are also to leave us, total 102 of them [...] all the nice things, I bought at Simla for you all have been lost, on their way down country, one of the waggons in crossing a stream rapidly rising, and all my poor presents went with it, bad luck was not it, about £50 worth, & I looked forward with such pleasure to giving them away to you all when I got home'.Twenty-six (4 March 1859), '[Hulkagurowke?]. To his brother Arthur. 'we gave up our horses at Cawnpore, & then proceeded by rail to Allahabad 120 miules, where I remained four days volunteering was opened again for one day, but only 24 volunteered total 130 men. The first Squadron left Allahabad by bullock train two days ago, which I am glad to say I am in & shall be at Benares tomorrow, I have got a bullock cart to myself, so have my bed comfortably made on a chadpor i e a small bedstead, & have got all my little comforts with me, & two Servants which makes it very different to when I first came up to join my Regt. not knowing the country, but now I feel quite an old Indian'.Twenty-seven (21 March [1859]), 'Raineegunge. 120 miles from Calcutta'. To his father. 'I have got leave to come overland, & leave this for Calcutta to night but I am afraid I shall not get a passage till the middle of next month, but at all events I hope to be in dear old England again with you all in about 10 or eight weeks from this, so many officers are going home, that it is very difficult even to get a deck passage overland, how glad I shall be to get out of this country [...] this is a dreadful place, the men have got very difficult barracks, but the barracks for the Officers are shameful, nothing but a mud wall thatched, with no doors or windows full of mosquitoes & fleas'.