Captain Hearsey and his 10 companions had spent the last 2 months under the protection of the Rani and her son in Mutteara. It was not an uncomfortable stay and the government agent, Fakirudin Khan himself had received them after their failed boat escape, ensuring them everything was being done to ensure their safety.
Yet things in Mutteara were not exactly as quiet as all that.
In early August, 300 men of Girdara Singh’s regiment arrived from Lucknow. They had been sent to bring in fugitives to Lucknow, as prisoners. The Captain and the other men of the party, with what arms they had at their disposal kept watch through the night, informing the Rani in no uncertain terms that they were not interested in going anywhere. Farikudin Khan made himself scarce, neither assisting them nor allowing them to escape.
“At last, seeing no other alternative, and as a last resort, a sort of compromise was made with the leaders of the mutineers, Bunda Hussein of Tumbour; and the the party, after nearly three weeks’ delay, marched back to Lucknow; Fackeer-ood-deen Khan with 400 men of the Raja’s were also sent. On our second march from Mutteara, Thakoor Daba Singh, a respectable zamindar in the Dhowraria Raja’s service, came in the evening and confirmed our former suspicions, saying the Ranee and the Government Agent had formed a collusion with Bunda Hussein and deliberately sold us to the rebels, and the agreement, signed by the latter, allowing us to retain our arms, wold be violated on our reaching Esanuggur…”
With no alternative left and obviously alarmed by this new piece of intelligence, there was nothing to do but flee. The next evening, the ladies were placed on Mr. Gonne’s elephant, and the men, mounting their ponies, fled towards Kypreegurh, hoping to make it as swiftly as possible to the hopeful safety of Raja Kholraja Singh’s palace in Koolapore. At their first stop, after more than 16 hours in the saddle, while resting their animals and availing themselves of some refreshment offered by friendly villagers, they were suddenly told that 300 men of Dhowraria,sent by the Rani, were in pursuit and closing quickly.
After an hour of hard riding, they arrived at the Mohon River – now impossible to ford having risen during the monsoons. No ferry boats were to be had but Mr. Gonne, undaunted, proposed going further upstream where he hoped it might be lower. When luck runs out it is not to be trifled at – two miles had made no difference to the river. They were now stuck at Khowakaira Ghat. The rain was coming down in sheets and evening was closing in.
“Whilst deliberating how to get across, suddenly a shout was raised. Our pursuers, under cover of the brushwood, had gained upon us. Fastening the horses in a neighbouring hollow, we took up a position behind trees. Presently the enemy opened a fire of matchlocks, and commenced advancing, but moving very cautiously, as they knew we were armed with very good double-barreled rifles. When within 50 yards, I obtained a glimpse of the leader and fired. The shot took effect, which checked their further proceeding…”
The ladies, still on the elephant and Mr. Carew on his horse did not wait to see the outcome of the fight. They “went off to the west…” In the growing darkness, Captain Hearsey and Captain Hastings lost the elephant’s tracks in the undergrowth and fell further and further behind. Finally giving it up as an impossible task, they returned to the river. The others in the party, Mr. Brand, Sergeant-Major Rodgers, Mr. Brown and Mr. Gonne had not followed the elephant and were now no where to be seen. Captains Hastings and Hearsey abandoned their horses and swam across the river (it is very likely that the presence of the ladies had prevented them from doing this earlier). The next day they reached the village of Gonapatia, where the kindness of Rajah Koolraj Singh, of Pudnaha made it possible for them to proceed onwards to Koolapore. To their surprise the Rajah had other guests – Mr. Brand and Sergeant-Major Rodgers, who, like the two captains, had swum across the river during the night. Mr. Brown unfortunately, met a different end, “before the latter had gained the shore, an alligator had pulled him down under the water, and he was seen no more.” Mr. Gonne appeared in Koolapore a day later.
Sergeant-Major Rodgers refused to give up on his family. Somewhere in the jungle were his wife and step-son, Miss Jackson and Mr. Carew. They waited two days, sending out parties of the rajah’s men to scour the countryside, but they found no-one. They would never see their companions again.
Meanwhile the Dhowraria Rani had not given up the chase. Her followers came across the river and were within a mile of Koolapore when the party was forced to flee again. They stumbled their way to a forest, thick enough to allow for cover, where they remained for 2 days. On the third, a jemadar in the service of Raja Koolraj Singh found them and, under his escort, they found their way to Dhoolee Kote, in the Nepali Hills.
It was here they learned the fate of their other companions. Unable to cross the river they had “fallen into the hands of the Dhowraria people and were taken back to Mutteara, from when they were forwarded to Lucknow…”
Forwarded to Lucknow they were – and killed when Havelock arrived in the city. It is said that Georgiana Jackson and Mrs. Greene were shot together but where their bodies and those of their companions were left, is unknown.
Captain John Hearsey, the Sergeant-Major and Mr. Brand stayed with the Rajah until January 1858. Their whereabouts were not as unknown as they had presumed and the Rajah was presented an ultimatum by the rebels- either send in the heads of the remaining party or be attacked. Unwilling to comply with the former request and not wanting to be involved in the latter, the Rajah forwarded them to a military post in Nepal – Dyluck. Still sick and unable to travel further, the Sergeant-Major and Mr. Brand now leave the picture, leaving only the Captain.
He decided now to take fate into this own hands. Having heard that Jung Bahadur of Nepal was planning to join Sir Colin Campbell’s force on its march to Lucknow, he decided to join the Nepalese. His journey to join the force would entail another month of traveling but arrive he did and eventually the Captain would become Head of the Intelligence Department for Sir Colin, remaining with him until the end of the campaign.
The Captive Exile Hasteneth that he may be loosed
The Rajah of Mitauli, meanwhile, was undecided what to do. It would appear that everyone between his fort and Lucknow now knew he was harbouring fugitives. He had received a letter from Sir Henry Lawrence instructing him to escort the party to Lucknow. He had also received a notice from Begum Hazrat Mahal to send them to Lucknow. At least everyone wanted them alive.
By October, Lone Singh had made up his mind. It no longer looked like the Company’s power was coming back and what would be the consequences of misplaced loyalty now? Figuring his position would be vastly improved if complied with the request of the Begum and, for a sum of 8000 rupees, he sold his guests.
Madelaine Jackson takes up the story.
“Men came and took Capt. Orr’s gun – said we were to go – would not let us take anything. We thought they would cut off our heads and send them into Lucknow – but at the edge of the forest they took us to, they had two native carts – drawn by two bullocks – in which they told us to get – and a lot of soldiers marched along – M. and I and Sophy and Sergeant Morton in the 1st – Capt. And Mrs. Orr and Louisa and Mr. Burnes in the other. They were big enough for 2 – and had no springs. They had top covers and side curtains to keep the sun out. They stopped at a village and got a smith and brought out irons – Mrs. Orr and I begged them on our knees not to put them on – uselessly – they had some for Mrs. Orr and me – but Capt. Orr and M. said they would take 2 sets each – so after a talk those were taken away. Those horrid irons were soldered round each ankle – and had two chains which they tied by a string round their waists – we tore our clothing in strips to wrap round them – but even then they made sore places. The poor serjeant (Morton) fainted when his were put on. All day we went on – and at every village stopped and crowds came to look at us.”
After a few more days, they arrived in Lucknow and were taken to the Kaiserbagh Palace. Their appearance so angered the rebels that it nearly caused a riot.
“When near the palace – the soldiers seemed afraid the people would kill us and made us get out of the carts, which could not stir for the crowd – we were first and I went to Mrs. Orr’ cart and saw a man with a big knife and made rush at her – the soldiers stopped him and made us walk between them – M. could hardly stand and had to be supported between 2 men – Mr. Burnes was out of his mind – Capt. Orr carried his little girl and helped his wife – I managed to lift up Sophy – tho I could hardly do it as she was a big child – and made the men keep off the press – the sepoys were doing their best to get us in safe…”
Within the palace, the group was treated to food and given “nice big rooms with English furniture”. The irons were removed from the men and their wounds were treated. It was comfortable prison, but a prison nonetheless and their future remained uncertain proving intolerable for the Sergeant Major and Mr. Burnes, who, as the days passed, “ were both half mad..”
The suspense came to an end on the 16th of November when the sound of English voices outside and “the natives yelling and groaning and all the horrid noises of fighting,” they received the news that Sir Colin Campbell was in Lucknow and his relief was a success.
“We just longed to be able to tell them to come at once and take the palace and the head people – they could have done it as there were no soldiers in it and they were all in dismay at the new army getting in so quickly – and they had no leader. Of course we should have all got killed first – and as it was, they were so infuriated, they came in saying the men must go with them. They would not take Mrs. Orr and I. They wanted to take little Sophy but left her hearing she was a girl. We were al stunned – M. kissed me and we all said goodbye.
The last I saw – they were trying to tie their hands and M. refused and tried to shake them off – I rushed to help him but they pushed me back and pulled a curtain – I don’t know what happened – I suppose I fainted for I woke and found myself laid on a sofa and Mrs. Orr pouring water over me – and I told her I saw them shooting the men in the Court and were coming for us…”
Madeline never saw her brother again, Mountstuart was shot by sepoys of the 71st Bengal N.I, with the other men – Captain Orr, Quartermaster Sergeant Morton and Mr. Burnes – in a courtyard of the Kaiserbagh.
A Christian camp follower named Songeness Madrasi, who had come to Lucknow with Havelock’s army, and (having been captured by the rebel sepoys in September and put to work as as sweeper) was witness to the execution. Tied arm to arm they were shot, one man had a prayer book in his waistcoat pocket, another a hat. Songeness then related that the corpses of the men – after being untied – were piled one on top of the other in a nearby trench, some days after they had been shot (he being one of the burial party). Songeness put the hat and the book in with the dead.
Following the recapture of Lucknow, Songeness was taken back to Kaiserbagh to identify the burial place but he could not – a large defensive ditch had swallowed up the grave.
After the execution, the ladies were left in limbo.
“No one came near us or brought us food that day (16th of November) or the next. We had all had breakfast and the remains had not been taken away and luckily there were bits of chuppaties and rice which we gave the children…Mrs. Orr and I had none for about 36 hours – 2 days and a night – I got light headed very soon. I think we both hoped we were dying..”Madeline Jackson
When Campbell’s army began shelling the Kaiserbagh, they were moved to a small room, in which there was barely any place to stand or lay down, and they could hear the people from the Residency filing past. But the guard on them was never let up and there was no chance of escape.
Their time of waiting was far from over.
Sophie Christian died on the 22nd of November – dysentery had wreaked havoc on her poor little body and finally “ she breathed hard a little and then just went to sleep..” Mrs. Orr got word to their captor, Wajid Ali “the head man who took care of all the ladies in the palace” – and Sophy was buried that night.
Shortly after, dressed in the clothes of the Lucknow ladies, they were moved to another house for their safety. Madeline heard that this had been her sister’s last home before her execution and she looked around the walls “to see if they had by chance written on them – but there was nothing.” It would not be until the beginning of March 1858, that Sir Colin Campbell would receive a surprising package at Alambagh – Louisa Orr.
“Wajid Ally to whom General Outram had offered a reward of 100,000 Rs. (sanctioned by the Government), should he succeed in effecting the release of the captives, made a solemn promise..and this promise made to the General and to Captain Orr’s brothers, was confirmed in the presence of the ladies, by a solemn oath, Wajid Ally swearing by the heads of his own children..”
Despairing what to do, Wajid Ali hatched a daring plan. He would send Louisa Orr to the Alambagh.
“..dressed like a native her feet and hands stained, – and was carried out of the house like a bundle of clothes on a the Ayah’s back – she was a very slight child – could speak the language perfectly and knew she was to pretend to be the Ayah’s child – then the Ayah was to say make her over to a Sowar who was to say she had smallpox – and he rode off with her to the English Camp..”
Mir Wajid Ali had tried to prevent the deaths of Georgiana Jackson and the others in her party. But having been placed in the hands of the Delhi mutineers, lately descended on Lucknow, he had been threatened with death had he attempted to intervene. He then did what he could to ensure the lives of the next group, but he was suspected of being too communicative with them and subsequently, prevented from visiting them. He was completely powerless to stop the 71st from executing the men who were under the command of Moulvie of Faizabad – a brilliant rebel leader but thoroughly ruthless in his hatred of the British. It was from this man that Wajid Ali was trying the protect the ladies.
Communicating now as openly as possible with the English, he wrote “he felt the greatest anxiety regarding the safety of the ladies as well as his own family…” The Moulvie had discovered the ladies had been moved again and now there was no doubt in his mind that Wajid Ali was no longer a part of the rebel cause.
“From his spies, Wajid Ally learnt that the Moulavy might every hour be expected: no time was therefore to be lost. In this difficulty, he begged of Mrs. Orr to write a note regarding the danger of the position she was placed, to the address of any British Officer…this note was immediately written and confided in the care of Wajid Ally’s brother-in-law, who, however, had hardly left the place when he encountered a party of Goorkas under the command of Captains MacNeill and Bogle…”
Quickly explaining the nature of his errand to the two officers, they now rushed to the house where the ladies were being kept. Without a moment to lose, the ladies were piled into a palanquin – with no bearers to be had, the Gurkas bore the load, and escorted by Captain MacNeill, their ordeal was coming to an end. Captain Bogle, in the meantime, arranged for Wajid Ali and his family to be escorted away to General MacGregor’s Camp – among his family, he had managed to secret away a number of clerks wives – nameless Eurasian women, who, but for his kindness, would most certainly have perished.
In the camp, Mrs. Orr was reunited with her daughter and her husband’s brothers, Alexander and Adolphus; Madeline, when asked who she wanted to be sent to in India, she burst into tears, and said, “all mine were killed.”
Quotations and research material for all the posts regarding Sitapur, Shajahanpur and Muhamdi:
The English Captives in Oudh, edited by M. Wylie Esq., 1858
The Indian Mutiny – Saul David, 2002
Angels of Albion – Jane Robinson, 1996
The Great Uprising in India – Rosie Llewellyn Jones, 2007
The Great Mutiny – Christopher Hibbert, 1978
Annals of the Indian Rebellion – Noah Alfred Chick, 1858
For an interesting account of the massacre in the church, though both fictional and biographical, I recommend reading the novella “A Flight of Pigeons,” by Ruskin Bond.