Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Leaving the Residency

"Hackerry, Bombay," a photo by Francis Frith, c.1870's


On the 17th of November, the order came from the Commander in Chief, Sir Colin Campbell, to evacuate the Residency. The women, children, the sick and the wounded were to proceed to Dilkusha.  However, it was found impracticable to evacuate the entire garrison, so only the sick and the wounded left on the 18th, while the women and children followed on the next day.

Katherine Harris was one of the women who was not happy to leave. Despite all the hardships they had endured, leaving the Residency was difficult. It was a place of refuge – no matter what the mutiny threw at them, in the Residency, they were safe.

“It seems such an extraordinary step, after holding the garrison for so long, no one ever dreamed for a moment of such measure as evacuating Oude now. I trust it is for the best.” (A Lady’s Diary of the Siege of Lucknow, pp 90-91)

 For Kate Bartrum, leaving the residency had a different meaning altogether:

“And now we must bid farewell to our little room, the scene of so much suffering and sorrow; and before night I shall pass the spot where my husband was killed, and where, perhaps, he has found a grave.”

Orders were confused. At first it had been determined that nothing could be taken “only as much of our worldly goods as we can carry in our hands” (A Lady’s Diary of the Siege of Lucknow, pp 90)  - as a result, Mr. Cowper proceeded, in his indignation, to make a bonfire of his property. He must have felt rather foolish when some time later it was decided that everyone was to be provided with a camel for their baggage. Ultimately, there was to be a lack of camels and conveyances of any sort, but an effort was made to transport a startlingly vast amount of baggage by any means possible.


Relief of the Siege of Lucknow, C.L. Doughty

Some women, like Kate Bartrum had very few possessions left and found she could pack all her things into a small compass, yet she was more worried about the journey ahead of her with “no one to look after me or care for me, but God.”  Others had more pressing problems and certainly far more baggage that poor Kate Bartrum.

Mrs Case and her sister Caroline spent the whole day of the 18th packing and it proved to be quite a chore:

“Our linen we sewed up in pillow-cases and took as pillows, the other things we absolutely did not want to leave behind, we put into boxes. We contrived to take a good deal of our plate among our clothes, but all our glass and crockery we were obliged to leave behind us, besides many other things we should like to have saved.”  (Day by Day at Lucknow, Case, pp 285)

Maria Germon worked herself into a frenzy of packing, sewing, saving and dressing:

“Wednesday, November 18th. I got up at daybreak, and rushed over to Charlie. I found him fast asleep, but awoke him with the news, which he would not believe; however, he got up and gave me all sorts of instructions how to manage, and said he would set off and see if he could contrive anything for me. I went home again to stitch my valuables around me; and, by dinner time he had got me two old men—fathers of Sepoys who had been with us all through the siege—one of whom was to carry a bundle of bedding, and the other my dressing case; our only servant, a punkah coolie, was to carry a tin box: he cheered me with the news also, that he had got leave to accompany me as far as Secundrabagh.So I must walk, having no carriage; however, there came an order that we were not to go till the next day. I was thankful, for I was quite worn out with the preparations...We went to bed all worn out, Charlie sending word, the last thing, that I was to have the Subadar's mare to ride the next day. The Sikh cook was to carry a banghy (shoulder yoke); so I set to work and packed my little portmanteau with what next I thought I should most like to save (the difficulty was to select), and all these things went off at night with Herah Sing, a Sikh Sepoy in charge.”

Thursday. November 19th. Charlie came over the first thing, and said Capt. W—— had lent him a coolie, so I had to pack another box...I dressed in all the clothes I could, fearing I might not be able to get my boxes carried on from Secundrabagh. I put on three of each kind of under garments—a pink flannel dressing-gown, and plaid jacket, and then over all my cloth dress and jacket made out of my habit. I then tied my Cashmere shawl round my waist, and also Charlie's silver mug, and put on a worsted cap and hat, and had my cloak placed on the saddle; in my pink dressing gown I had stitched dear mamma's last present to me, and I filled several pockets with valuables also; in two under ones I had all my little stock of jewellery, and my journal, and some valuable papers. I also wore a bustle, in which I had stitched my Honiton lace wedding dress, veil, &c., and two black and white lace shawls; so that I was a pretty good size. At half-past 10, Charlie and Capt. W——, with great difficulty mounted me on my pony,—a very difficult affair dressed and laden as I was and with no spring in me. Capt. W—— and a large party, were in fits of laughter….” (A Diary Kept by R.C. Germon pp-122-124)


Leaving the Residency through the Bailey Guard Gate, the route of the refugees led through the Farhat Buksh Palace, the Court of the Motee Munzil to Sekundra Bagh.

Bailey Guard Gate drawing  by Clifford Henry Mecham
Bara Chattar Manzil and Farhat Baksh - view from the south - 1862

Chattar Manzil, 1858, photograph by Felice Beato

Several of the ladies left the Residency in the morning, “as early as 10 o’clock…” however Mrs. Case, her sister, Mrs. Inglis and her family took the advice of Brigadier Inglis, who thought it would be best if they left at 4 o’clock! Having arranged for some coolies to carry their charpoys and a hackery for their boxes, all of which had left a few hours earlier, the three women, 3 children and their servants proceeded on their journey to Sikander Bagh. Escorted by Captain Birch, the women walked while the children and the servants travelled in a carriage pulled by coolies.

An ekka - Native 4 passanger Omnibus

Travelling in India, ca 1850


Katherine Harris left the Residency with Mrs Anderson and Miss Schilling in a carriage belonging to Dr. Fayrer, drawn by Mr. Gubbin’s starving horses. The horses were too weak to pull the carriage for long and “stopped every 5 minutes, invariably choosing the most dangerous parts of the road for their halt.” She continues:

“At one place we were so hot under fire that we got out and ran for our lives, leaving the vehicle to its fate, and two poor natives who were helping to shove it on from behind, were shot.” 

They arrived at the Farhat Buksh Palace where they were treated to wine and water by some of the officers of the 90th after which they proceeded by foot to Sikandar Bagh. On the way they passed a 24 pounder manned by some sailors of the Naval Brigade, “they called out to us to bend low and run as fast as we could, we had hardly done so when a volley of grape whizzed over our heads and struck a wall beyond.” (The Siege of Lucknow ..pp 91)

Maria Germon had problems of her own:

“Herah Sing led my pony very carefully. At last we came to a part that was dangerous; the enemy commanded it from the Kaiser Bagh, and the musket shots were whistling about, so some soldiers advised my dismounting and walking through the trenches which had been cut for us. I did so; and when I came out at the engine house an officer came forward to meet me and congratulated me and offered his assistance. I said I was waiting for my pony, so he offered me his charpoy to sit on till it came round and sent his Orderly to look for it; at last it came, and he took me through some barracks to meet it, and there attempted to mount me, but of course unsuccessfully. At last, however, with the assistance of a tall soldier and Herah Sing, and a chair, I was got up again...So on I went, steadily, till I came to another dangerous part, when another soldier told me I had better dismount; but I thought of my former difficulties, so I made Herah Sing double the pony across, the balls whistling over our heads.”  (A Diary Kept by R.C. Germon pp 124)
Poor Mrs. Germon – dressed in all she possessed and struggling to maintain decorum under fire. She arrived at Sikandar Bagh, unharmed.

Sikandar Bagh Gate from the North. The Vibart Collection, "Dannenberg Album" ca. 1870  

The scene at the Sikandar Bagh was a strange one. Sir Colin Campbell and his force had fought a pitched battle within the walls of the garden enclosure only a few days earlier - however the dead sepoys, some 2000 in number had only been buried in the grounds on the 18th - the stench must have  been intolerable.  Now the garden was filled with women, children, servants and their baggage. The scene resembles a macabre Victorian picnic, as Mrs. Case writes:

“We had our charpoys carried inside, and seated ourselves upon them. The officers were going about, most kindly bringing wine and biscuits to those who wished to take anything..”

Charpoy

Mrs. Harris met several friends – gentlemen – who were now a part of Sir Colin’s force. They treated her and her party very kindly, regaling them with tea (with milk and sugar), bread and butter and beef  - Captain Norman gave Mrs. Harris some ginger nuts.

It was up to the same officers now to decide how to proceed to Dilkusha. A strong escort of 1500 men was organised to protect the party on their way to Dilkusha but getting them there proved to be difficult. Maria Germon writes:

“About dusk they began to make preparations, and the place was one mass of camels, bullocks, carriages and human beings; the same outside, in front of the gateway: so great was the confusion that Capt. C——, who had been ordered to keep the road open, gave it up in despair, and came and said it was utterly impossible to do so; he had left a string of camels entangled in a ditch, and the road was one mass of entanglement; he was, however, obliged to go off again, and it became pitch dark; and there we were, left to our own devices: how we were ever to get on, none of us could tell. However, at last I decided my best plan was to load my pony with my bundle of bedding, and walk myself, and the rest of my baggage must take its chance; the coolie who had night blindness, and one of the old men, must remain with it, and get Capt. C—— to send it on in a hackery next day. I got a soldier of the 9th Lancers, named Mitchell, to load the pony for me; he was very civil, and did all he could for me: we then sat down in the dark, patiently, till we should get our orders to move; the enemy were out between us and the Dil Koosha, and we were not to go without a large escort, which was to be ready at 8. A little before that time came Capt. E——, to say the enemy were out so strong that no carriages of any kind were to go on that evening, we must hurry with all speed to the Dil Koosha, but must go a  roundabout, sandy road, and must run no risk of being hindered by carriages sticking in the sand: as many dhoolies (palanquins for the sick) as could be procured would be in readiness for the ladies, and those who could not get them must walk. Soon after, fortunately, came up Mr. O'D——, who said our only plan would be to go and take possession of empty dhoolies ourselves; so off we set, he dragging us through the entangled mass—far worse than any London mob—and he put us into four dhoolies, nearly all separated. I called to my old man to bring the pony and bundle of bedding, but that was utterly impossible for the time; we waited some time in the dhoolies, and then mine and Miss H——'s were ordered somewhere to the front, but in quite a different direction to what I considered the right road to the Dil Koosha. We heard the enemy firing in the distance: never shall I forget the confusion of that night—the masses crowded together in the pitch darkness; for even when Mrs. B—— had a candle lighted, thinking her baby was dying (its breath having been caught by the cold air), it was ordered to be put out immediately, on account of the number of ammunition waggons. I think we must have started about 9; we went on steadily for some distance, and then some of the advanced guard came riding back, telling the dhoolie-bearers not to speak a word, the enemy were so near; so on we went, nothing to be heard but the tramp of the bearers; after a time we were all halted, and not allowed to make the slightest noise, the enemy were so close. After a time, on we went again in silence, a very roundabout way, and when I looked at my watch after our arrival, I found it had stopped at ten minutes past 2. Now, the direct road would only have been two miles."


Modes of travel in India, ca 1888 



The sick and casualties in dhoolies (C. Ulrich, 1860)


Intended as hunting lodge and as a summer retreat for the Nawabs of Oudh, the Dilkusha (Heart's Delight) was built around 1800 by the British Resident Major Gore Ouseley. In 1857, the house was held by the insurgents until it's capture by Sir Colin Campbell. It was here that Sir Henry Havelock was to die of dysentry on the 24th of November 1857.

Dilkusha, 1858, photograph by Tytler
Dilkusha, 1870, Robinson & Shepherd


Dilkusha, 2009
Dilkusha, 2009

It is unclear when the destruction of the Dilkusha took place as it looks only somewhat damaged  in Harriet Tytler's photograph in 1858. It would appear that the majority of the damage took place after the mutiny, possibly more through neglect.

At Dilkusha, most of the pitched tents were already crowded, so many of the ladies wrapped themselves in blankets and slept on the ground. In the morning they found accommodation in the tents of friends and the picnic proceeded at a leisurely pace. In the afternoon letters from home were distributed much to the delight of the beleaguered who had not had any news from the loved ones for many months. Kate Bartrum sadly received letters from her husband Robert, written while she was in the Residency. She did not have the heart to read them. She also received some of his boxes from the Alum Bagh, but  nearly everything had been taken from them except his uniform and his Bible. Alone and in anguish, Kate and her baby proceeded with the rest of the party to Cawnpore, stopping on the way at Alum Bagh.

Grave of Charles Dashwood, aged 19, who died at Dilkusha on the 22nd of November 1857.


Leaving Dilkusha with this many people proved to be as trying as the short journey from Sekundra Bagh. Katherine Harris writes on the 24th of November from Alum Bagh:

“The confusion of the march is perfectly indescribable: such a crowd of waggons, carts, camels, bullocks, elephants, loaded with baggage of every description, sick and wounded women and children, all moving along in one huge mass, without the smallest appearance of arrangement or order…Every ten minutes we came to a stand-still and waited perhaps an hour before the mass was in motion again, without knowing what caused the obstruction, the was dust was suffocating the heat of the sun sickening…”

Alum Bagh, 1870


On the 26th of November they moved from Alum Bagh to a camp at Bunee (Bani), leaving at 11 and continued on in much the same tedious fashion until sunset. It took another 4 days of marching, of which 38 miles were a forced march, to reach Cawnpore.

From Cawnpore they proceeded onwards to Allahabad where many of them stayed in the company of friends before carrying on to Calcutta. For the women and the children, the siege of Lucknow was over.


Arrival at Cawnpore of the Lucknow Garrison, November 28th, 1857







 


Friday, 23 October 2015

Visions of the Past, II

 To give a complete picture of the Residency and perhaps clarify a few points as to the actual position of some of the buildings, the following drawings are quite useful:


Starting at Bailey Guard:









The Cawnpore Battery or South Angle








Brigade Mess







The Commissariat




The Church or North Angle




The River and Redan





It is easier to envision the past with actual buildings than with crumbling ruins.