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A Cavalry Officer During the Sepoy Revolt

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A Cavalry Officer During the Sepoy Revolt
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Author(s): by A.R.D. Mackenzie
Date Published: 01/2006
Page Count: 128
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84-677-024-
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-039-5

A Young British Cavalryman caught up in the chaos of mutiny and its bloody aftermath The Indian Mutiny began for Mackenzie in a fury of violence and bloodshed. As Bengal Army native troops rose, killing their Officers and their families and burning their cantonments, this young cavalryman found himself literally fighting for his life often against those he had recently commanded. This terrible but often exciting narrative takes the reader from the outbreak of the mutiny through a time of rebellion and warfare as seen from the horse soldiers perspective. A must for anyone interested in the Raj, Victorian Warfare and well written first hand military accounts

Hurriedly putting on my uniform and sword,I jumped on a horse, and galloped towards the regimental lines; but, I had scarcely got out of the gate of my compound when I met the English Quartermaster-Sergeant of my regiment flying for his life on foot from his house in the lines.

“Oh God! Sir,”he exclaimed,“the troopers are coming to cut us up.” “Let us then stick together, ”I answered; “two are better than one.” For a moment he hesitated. Then, looking back, the sight of a small cloud of dust rapidly approaching from the distance overcame his resolution, and he rushed through the gate into the grounds of my bungalow, and scaled the wall between them and those of the next house. Instantly a small mob of budmashes,* prominent among whom I recognised my own night watchman, attacked him.The chowkidar thrust at him with his spear as he was crossing the wall, and cut open his lips. To my joy he fired one barrel of a gun which he carried with him, and shot the brute dead. He then dropped on to the ground on the other side, and disappeared from view. Later on will be found his subsequent adventures: for I rejoice to say he escaped with his life.

At this moment an infantry sepoy,armed with a sword, made a sudden swoop with it at my head. I had not drawn my sword,and had only time to dig a spur into my horse’s flank and force him almost on to my enemy. This spoilt his stroke,and his tulwar fortunately missed its aim, and only cut my right shoulder cord. By this time I had pulled my weapon out of its scabbard, but the sepoy declined any further sword-play, and promptly climbed over a wall out of my reach. As I turned from him and looked down the road to the lines, I saw that it was full of cavalry troopers galloping towards me. Even then it did not occur to me that they could have any hostile intent towards myself. I shouted to them to halt. This they did, and surrounded me; and, before I knew what was happening, I found myself warding off, as well as I could, a fierce onslaught from many blades. A few moments would have sealed my fate, when, providentially, the late Lieutenant Craigie emerged from his gate a little further down the road and came straight to my help. This diversion saved me. The troopers scattered past us and made off towards the European lines. It was only too clear now that a mutiny, and that of the most serious kind, was in full swing. Our duty was plain, though very hard to perform, for at this moment Lieutenant Craigie’s Wife and my Sister were on their way together in his carriage to the church, situated in the European lines, and our first natural impulse was to gallop after them. But they had started some little time previously, and we hoped that they had already reached their destination, and were in safety among the British troops. Military discipline sometimes tries a soldier to the utmost; and now we felt that Wife and Sister must be left in the hands of God, and that our place was among the mutineers on the paradeground. Thither we went as fast as our horses could carry us,and found ourselves in a scene of the utmost uproar. Most of the men were already mounted, and were careering wildly about, shouting and brandishing their swords, firing carbines and pistols into the air, or forming themselves into excited groups. Others were hurriedly saddling their horses and joining their comrades in hot haste.