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Galloping Guns

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Galloping Guns
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Author(s): James Young
Date Published: 2008/05
Page Count: 268
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-461-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-462-1

The 'Red Men' of the Bengal Horse Artillery on Campaign

James Young was a young officer in the early days of the corps d'elite that was The Bengal Horse Artillery. In the first years of the nineteenth century the British Empire was expanding its influence over the sub-continent and the armies of the Honourable East India Company supported by British regular troops fought under the leadership of Generals such as Lake and Wellesley—the future Duke of Wellington—to suppress the great martial powers of India such as the Marathas, Sikhs and Mogul forces. Young’s war was the Second Maratha Campaign fought in Central India principally against the forces of Holkar—the great Maratha chief. Young's account of the campaign make riveting reading as he describes life on the march and the actions of his battery of horse artillery on the battlefield. The sieges at Deig and Bharatpore are described in graphic detail. Young’s text is complemented by a short history of the campaign to give his account context

September 5th—Holkar it is said has gone in person to Jyepoor, to compel the Rajah of that country to join him, no doubt, or at least to extort money from him. A considerable part of his army, is gone, they say to Muttra. Lieutenant Colonel Brown who marched from that place, to relieve Monson, was too late for that purpose and now has returned to overtake, if possible, Holkar’s people at Muttra. Letters from Agra, mention a heavy cannonade having been heard in that quarter.<br>
Some battalions of Bapoojee Sindhia’s, strange to say, attacked two companies of the new Regiment, the 21st under Captain Nicol, who were escorting treasure. These two companies threw themselves into a village, and most gallantly repulsed the enemy in several attacks, although the enemy brought guns against them and at last compelled them to take themselves off when the 21st pursued their route. Different reports are in circulation about the conduct of the Bhartpoor Rajah, another of our lately acquired allies. By one account, his troops joined Holkar and fought against Monson, by another he took a large convoy of our camels passing Wear-Fort. within the walls, fearing they would be taken by Holkar’s horse, then in full possession of the whole country, unloaded and deposited the baggage and sent the camels up among the inaccessible hills. Writing at the same time to Agra, for instructions as to what he should do with them. If he is turned foe, from friend we shall have the Forts of Wear, Dig, Comeere and Bhartpoor to take, the three last of which are said to be wonderfully strong.<br>
We continue to march extraordinarily slowly, which is odd enough, considering the pressing necessity of the folks on the other side of the Jumna. But as we set out quite suddenly and unprovided with grain, bazaars or necessaries it may be the policy of the commander-in-chief to move slowly that their supplies may overtake him from all quarters while it will be known to Holkar that he has marched a circumstance of much consequence.<br>
We hear today that thirteen officers were killed in the late affair. Holkar, it is said, cut off the hands of many of our sepoys, who refused to serve against us!<br>
Captain Bradford, the Commissary of bazaars, and Pay Master to Monson’s army, has brought off rupees, about two-thirds of what he had in charge; the public servants all left him, and his own private servants saved this money. Lieutenant Williams, Monson’s Persian interpreter, and Lieutenant Nixon his Aid-de-camp, one of the finest young men in the whole army, were killed as was Monson’s European troopers, in defending the brigadier, when badly wounded, and trying to cross a river.<br><br>
September 6th—We hear today that the European Regiment from Allahabad is ordered to the grand army, and not to Bundelkund and that a battalion of the 1st Regiment Native Infantry is on its way up. 256 recruits of the 76th passed Allahabad on their way to join the Regiment on the 1st and the 75th Regiment left Calcutta, on their way to the field, on the 13th ultimo. All this is excellent news, as every European soldier, is worth his weight in silver to the Government at this most critical juncture.<br>
Holkar is said to have occupied Biana Pass, with all his Infantry and guns and to have sent his Horse, all round.<br>
Colonel Scott, resident at Delhi, later at Lucknow, is with the army, and is said to have expressed his will to have the command of a brigade in the grand army at which every one is rejoined as the colonel is said to be a man of talents and merit. Would to God all our commanders were! Sapientiverbum.2 by the bye, if ever these the lucubration of James Young—Gentleman should fall into the hands of the curious and should any of our excellent, or hyper-excellent commanders see the above “verbum sapienti”!, I shall only say in the words of a quaint but clever adage, “Qui Capit, Me facit!”<br>
Monson, we hear, has demanded a court of enquiry which his reputation requires as in all probability it will clear him of any imputation further than his want of head or capacity to conduct ought beyond a storming party and consequently the blame, will deservedly shift itself from his wise head, to the heads of the wiseacres who gave him the important charge, such an army!, again, “Qui Capit’’ etc. etc. The more necessary be reiterated, as from good authority, I learn that our general did not give the Honourable Brigadier this command but that it originated in another quarter!