This is the third volume in C. R. B. Barrett's monumental history of a famous cavalry regiment of the British Army—the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars. Volume one deals with the regiment's time as dragoons principally during the continental wars of the eighteenth century, the second volume concerns the Napoleonic Wars and the 7th's service in Spain and in the Waterloo campaign, in this third volume the regiment naturally is shouldering its share of the mostly small campaigns and battles that shaped the era best defines the British Empire during Queen Victoria's long reign. So the history recounts many varied incidents during the Canadian Rebellion, the Indian Mutiny, in the Sudan, against the Matabeles, in Mashonaland and during the Great Boer War. The fourth volume published by Leonaur in this matching set—available in soft and hard cover with dust jacket—covers the uniform, weapons and equipment of these cavalrymen throughout their history.
The action on my proper right having again commenced with great vigour, I proceeded in that direction. On arriving I found two guns had come out on the open plain, and attacked Hodson’s Horse with two guns of Major Carleton’s Battery, which covered my rear. I immediately ordered up the other four guns under the command of Lieutenant Percival and two squadrons of H.M.s 7th Hussars under Major Sir W. Russell and opened grape upon the force within 3 or 400 yards with terrible effect, but the rebels made the most determined resistance and two men in the midst of a shower of grape brought forward two green standards which they placed in the ground beside their guns and rallied their men. Captain Atherley’s two companies of the 3rd B. R. Brigade, at this moment advanced to the attack, which obliged the rebels to move off. The cavalry then got between them and the guns and the 7th Hussars led gallantly by Major Sir W. Russell, supported by Hodson’s Horse under Major Daly C. B., swept through them twice, killing every man. I must here mention the gallant conduct of two officers of the 7th Hussars, Captain Bushe and Captain Fraser. The latter I myself saw surrounded by the enemy, and fighting his way through them all, he was severely wounded in his hand.<br>
July.—The Regiment remained encamped at Nawabgunge until the 21st July, when it marched for Fyzabad, where it arrived on the 29th.<br>
August.—A wing of the Regiment marched for Sultanpore on the 9th with a force under Brigadier Horsford, C.B., where it arrived on the 13th. Headquarters with the remaining wing marched with a force under Sir J. H. Grant on the 19th and arrived at Sultanpore on the 22nd. In many places along the route the track led across cultivation and through marshes (the latter caused by heavy rains) where the gun wheels sank to the axle. The infantry were frequently obliged to wade through sloughs. On arrival it was found that the enemy amounting to 20,000 men with 15 guns, occupied a strong position and opposed the passage of the Goomtee. They had taken away or destroyed every boat, so that no bridge could be thrown across the river, which is upwards of 400 feet wide, and the right bank being in possession of the enemy for about 15 miles up and down the river, it was found impracticable to bring boats from a distance. Three small dinghies (dugouts?) were found concealed, and of these a good raft was constructed. Three more dinghies were brought from Biswa Nuddee, 9 miles distant, and three others were found sunk in the river. Of these two more rafts were constructed; the heavy guns having in the meantime been got into position to cover the operations and keep down the fire of the enemy.<br>
The force commenced passing over by means of the rafts on the morning of the 25th. There was much difficulty experienced in swimming the horses across the river which is very deep and rapid. Only one horse of the 7th got drowned, altho’ it took the Regiment two days to cross and all the force did not get over until late on the 27th. On the afternoon of the 28th the enemy came out in strong force and attacked our position, when they were repulsed and driven back, but from the increasing darkness the troops were obliged to bivouac, and on advancing the following morning the cantonments (of the enemy of course) were found to be deserted.<br><br>
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Great gallantry was shown by a body of fine daring Zemindaree men who got round the British rear with two guns and attacked in the open. These were the men who attacked Hodson’s force and two of whose number planted the green standards by the guns which we have already mentioned. After they had attacked Hodson’s Horse with some success and had menaced the two guns with that regiment, Grant ordered up the 7th Hussars and the other four guns belonging to the battery. These four guns were posted within five hundred yards of the enemy and opened with grape ‘which mowed them down with terrible effect, like thistles before the scythe.’ Their chief, the man who ordered the two green standards to be planted near the guns, is described as ‘a big fellow with a goître on his neck.’ Two squadrons of the 7th Hussars under Sir William Russell and as many companies of the rifles were now sent forward and forced the enemy to retire; but, though forced back, the rebels were still undaunted, and with waving swords, spears and abusive language, called on the British to ‘come on.’
The 7th Hussars charged twice through them, and cut them up to a man. Round the guns alone lay one hundred and twenty-five dead.<br>
The action lasted for three hours. Six of the rebel guns were taken and six hundred rebels slain. The British loss was sixty-seven killed and wounded; thirty-three deaths from sunstroke and two hundred and fifty more men stricken down and obliged to be sent into hospital. It is stated that ‘men fell asleep in their tents and never awoke,’ heat apoplexy being the cause of this excessive loss of life. Though six guns were captured, the enemy were possessed of many more, and these they succeeded in removing. Each of the four bodies of the enemy retreated in a different direction, and as it was impossible for Grant to follow them up with the small remaining force which was at his disposal they succeeded in making good their escape.<br>
Grant himself returned to Lucknow, his force remaining at Nawabgunge. His next expedition was to march to the relief of the somewhat notorious Rajah Maun Singh. This worthy was both powerful and wealthy. He had been a rebel, but having deserted that cause, probably because he found it a fallen one, or had come to the conclusion that it would ultimately fail, was now professedly loyal to John Company.<br>
The consequence was that he found himself shut up in a large mud fort defended by thick walls and a broad ditch, and besieged by twenty thousand rebels with twenty guns.<br>
Starting from Nawabgunge on 22 July Grant’s column proceeded for some eight miles along the Fyzabad road. Here intelligence was received that one thousand two hundred rebels were posted in a village twelve miles to the south-east. To clear these out Grant detached two hundred of the 7th Hussars, the same number of Hodson’s Horse, a troop of Horse Artillery under Major Yates, and the 5th Punjab Infantry. Colonel Hagart of the 7th was in command of the whole. Colonel Hagart started at night hoping to surprise the rebels, but found them already departed. He rejoined Grant at Derriabad on 24 July. Maun Singh had meanwhile been sending messages imploring relief; but on the 26th his tone changed, and he informed Grant that the enemy was fast disappearing and that unless the British made haste they would all escape. The British did make haste, but found, when but a day’s journey from their goal, that not a rebel was left for them to fight. Some had joined the Begum across the Gogra, and eight thousand in two parties of four thousand each had made their way to Sultanpore. Grant reached Fyzabad on 29 July. Here he halted for an hour and then marched to the Ghât of Ajudia, four miles down the river Gogra.<br>
Here they caught several boats conveying fugitives across. Grant’s guns opened on them and sank all but one; the crews, however, jumped overboard and swam ashore down the river. The boat that escaped was not hit, nor was it deserted.