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The Bengal Native Army

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The Bengal Native Army
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Author(s): F. G. Cardew
Date Published: 2008/11
Page Count: 528
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-559-8
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-560-4

A history from 1599 to 1895

Lieutenant Cardew's excellent history of the Bengal Native Army is an invaluable reference resource for all those interested in the British in India and the armies of the Honourable East India Company and the Raj period that followed them. This substantial work covers the span of the activities of the Bengal presidency's forces from the very earliest times of its history, but of course includes all its campaigns and battles, regiments and notable personalities—both friend and foe—throughout the turbulent period of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Too many to itemise here, within this books pages the reader will discover Rajputs, Mahrattas, Moguls, Pindarees, Ghurkhas, Burmese, Afghans and Sikhs all battling against the might of the British Empire for dominance of the sub-continent or the retention of control over their own domains. In 1857 the Great Indian Mutiny erupted within the heart of the Bengal Army and this bloody period is described in considerable detail. The post Mutiny period covers the many troubles upon India's North Western Frontier as well as campaigns where the Indian forces of the Queen Emperor were required to fight her wars in other theatres and countries.

Major-General Gillespie, who was the first to penetrate the enemy's frontier, entered the Dun on October the 22nd, 1814, and occupied Dehra. The Gurkha governor of the western districts was Amar Sing Thapa, who had detached a force of 600 men under Balbhadra Sing for the defence of the Dun; this leader had taken up his position in the fort of Nalapani or Kalanga, five miles from Dehra. General Gillespie resolved to carry the place by assault, and formed the attacking force into four parties, which were to advance simultaneously from different directions on the morning of the 31st October. The signal for the attack was to be the firing of a gun, but this having been done before two of the parties had reached their destinations, the assault was delivered by the other two detachments only, and the result was a failure; the attack was repelled by the garrison with considerable loss, General Gillespie himself being killed, with four other officers and twenty-seven men; while seventeen officers and 213 men were wounded. The officers killed were Lieutenant and Adjutant B. R. O'Hara, 1-6th Native Infantry, Lieutenant and Adjutant R. H. Gosling, 1st of the 27th (attached to the Light Battalion), Ensign F. Fothergill, 1st of the 17th, and Ensign R. Ellis of the Pioneers. Colonel Mawby, of His Majesty's 53rd, now took command of the Division and retired to Dehra until the arrival of a battering train from Delhi. On the 25th of November, the 1-13th Native Infantry having joined in the interval, operations were renewed, and an assault delivered on the 27th, but with no better result; the attack was completely repulsed, and with still heavier loss to us than that sustained in the first attack, four officers, fifteen British soldiers, and eighteen sepoys being killed, and eight officers and 436 men wounded. The officers of the Bengal Army killed were Captain J. Campbell, 1st of the 6th, and Lieutenant J. Cuninghame, 1st of the 13th; Lieutenant J. B. B. Luxford, Horse Artillery, died of his wounds. It was now determined to bombard the place, and measures were taken to cut off its water-supply; the result was that it was evacuated in three days, Balbhadra Sing and ninety survivors effecting their escape and joining a party of 300 men which had been sent to their relief. This party was followed and dispersed by a force under Major Ludlow, consisting of 150 men of the Light Battalion and 300 of the 1-6th Regiment.<br>
On the 20th of December, Major-General Martindell joined the Division and assumed command. After occupying Nahan, the capital of Sirmoor, he made an attempt against Jaithak, a fort situated on the top of a lofty hill to the north of the town, and held by a body of upwards of 2,000 Gurkhas, commanded by Ranjur Sing Thapa, the son of the Gurkha Commander-in-Chief. The attack on the enemy's position was made on the 27th December by two detachments of, respectively, about 1,050 and 700 men, commanded by Major J. Ludlow, 1-6th and Major W. Richards, 1-13th Native Infantry. Major Ludlow's column came first in contact with the enemy near the village of Jampta, and there met with momentary success, but in following this up with an attack on one of the enemy's stockades, a severe repulse was experienced, ending in the complete defeat of the detachment, who retreated in confusion to Martindell's camp, having sustained a loss of one officer (Lieutenant G. M. Munt of the 1-1st, serving with the Light Battalion) killed and three wounded, and 152 men killed and wounded. Major Richards' column had in the meantime succeeded in taking up a position which cut off the water-supply of the garrison, and which, if held, must have compelled the Gurkhas to surrender, Here Richards was fiercely attacked by the enemy, and for six hours maintained his ground against all the efforts of the Gurkhas; but towards evening his ammunition began to fail, and at the same time orders to retire were received from General Martindell; a retreat was accordingly begun, but the rugged nature of the ground and the exhaustion of the men brought about confusion and ended in a defeat, in which the column sustained a loss of three officers (Lieutenant T. Thackeray and Ensign W. McM. Wilson, 2-26th, and Ensign G. Stalkart, 1-13th) and seventy men killed, and five officers and 228 men wounded, besides whom a large number of sepoys were taken prisoners. The losses of this detachment up to the commencement of its retreat had been very small, and had it not been for the failure of ammunition and the order to retire, it would have easily maintained its position. The result of these defeats was that the further advance of the division was completely checked, and though afterwards reinforced with both battalions of the 27th Native Infantry, General Martindell contented himself with simply blockading Jaithak until the spring of 1815, when the evacuation of the place was brought about by the successes of Major-General Ochterlony and the surrender of Amar Sing.
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