Government House, Calcutta, June 7, 1857
My dear Sir – I have just read, in a report from the Magistrate of Mynpoorie, the account of your conduct upon the occasion of Mutiny of a portion of the 9th Regiment of Native Infantry at the Station, 22d Ultimo. I have read it with an admiration and respect I cannot adequately describe.
Young in years, and at the outset of your career, you have given to your brother Soldiers a noble example of courage, patience, good judgement, and temper from which many may profit.
I beg you to believe me that it will never be forgotten by me.
I write this at once, that there may be no delay in making known to you your conduct has not been overlooked. You will of course, receive a more formal acknowledgment throug the Military department of the Government of your admirable service.
I am my dear Sir, your’s very faithfully,
Lieutenant de Kantzow, 9th B.N.I.
On the 20th of May, four companies of the 9th B.N.I. stationed at Aligarh had mutinied. It was of little surprise when the news reached Mynipoorie on the 22nd. Late on the night of the 21st the thesildar of Bhowgaon, Munsur Ali warned the magistrate, Mr. Powers himself that the 9th of Mynpoorie were not to be trusted.
Situated some seventy miles east of Agra and with 3 companies of 9th quartered at the station, the magistrate, Mr. Power did not doubt that very soon his station too would fall into open rebellion. Consulting with the commissioner, Mr. Arthur Cocks, they decided it would be best for everyone if the ladies and children (“fourteen females, consisting of ladies, sergeant’s and writer’s wives, with their children, an unlimited number”– Mr. Power) would be sent off to Agra – the roads were still open and it seemed wiser than keeping them in Mynpoorie. Dispatching his brother (who was known as the younger Power and also happened to be the Assistant Magistrate) early in the morning of the 22nd,to escort the ladies one stage away from the station. They would there be given into the trusted care of Sheikh Ahmednudeen – a sowar in Power’s guard – for the rest of the way to Agra. The younger Power was instructed to return.
Mr. Power and Mr. Cocks now turned their attention to the army.
The officers of the 9th, Lieutenants Crawford and 22 year old Charles Alphonse de Kantzow were placed in an unadmirable position. In order to test the fidelity of the men, Powers and Cocks commanded the officers to march their men out of the station to Bhongaon some 12 miles away from Mynpoorie under the pretense of helping the thesildar to punish some dacoits (armed bandits). The idea was if the men could be induced to march then this in some way would prove their fidelity – and if they did mutiny then there was still a chance they wouldn’t do so in Mynpoorie.
To their surprise the men did agree to move off but only as far as the end of the parade ground, where they stopped and refused to move one step farther. Thus halted, they turned on their officers. With shots fired (into the air and not at their officers) they warned Crawford and de Kantzow to depart.
Lieutenant Crawford did not need a second invitation. Turning his horse, he galloped as fast as he could back to the magistrates house – first to tell Power and Cocks what had happened and then to inform of his own intention to set off to Agra with all haste. In the confusion, he did not look for de Kantzow, who Crawford simply presumed was dead. Shocked by the sudden arrival of a frantic Crawford on an exhausted horse, Arthur Cocks now stepped up. He had little information to build an opinion on save that of Crawford who was convinced the sepoys would murder them all.
According to Arthur Cocks in his report from November 1858,
“The Sepoys were now approaching the station and firing off their muskets, and shouting like madmen. Mr. Powers seemed to hesitate what he would do. I considered it no time for hesitation. I fairly told him I did not consider anyone bound to remain; soon after I ordered my buggy, and, with the Rev. Mr. Kellner, drove liesurely away, having told thep people about that I hoped to return in a day or two with a force.” (Kaye and Malleson, Vol IIp 227)
Power saw things differently and in his report from May 25th, 1857, he stated:
“Mr. Cocks and the Rev. Mr. Kellner immediately decided on leaving, and the former tried to induce me to leave also; as I informed him that I did not desire to leave my post, he honoured me by terming my conduct “romantic,” and immediately departed in company with the Rev. Mr. Kellner. I then left my house, which I had no means of defending, and which I was informed the sepoys meant to attack, and proceeded to a large bridge ove the Eesun, on the Grand Trunk Road. My brother determined on accompanying me, and to share my fate; and I shall not be accused of favouritism, I hope, when I state that his coolness and determination were of the greatest aid and comfort to me through this trying occaision.”
Ensconsed on the bridge, Power was greatly relieved to be joined by
“Dr. Watson and shortly afterwards by Rao Bhowanee Sing, the first cousin of the rajah of Mynpoorie, with a small force of horse and foot; Sergeants Mitchell, Scott and Montgomery, of the road and canal departments, and Mr. McGlone, clerk in the Mynpoorie magistrates office. I was, at this time, most doubtful of the fate of Mr. de Kantzow; for I had not conincided with Lieutenant Crawford’s opinion, that he had been killed..” De Kantzow, Power’s states, was the reason he had been reluctant to leave the station.
While Cocks and Kellner fled and the two Powers were gathering a little force on the bridge, De Kantzow had been “stemming single-handedly the tide of mutiny.”
Unaware that Crawford thought him dead, de Kantzow had stood his ground. Haranguing his men to remain true to their salt or words to that effect, the sepoys did not shoot him – they simply dragged the lieutenant with them into the station. Here they “….fired a volley into the house of Serjeant Montgomery (which was close by), the inmates of which had fortunately left, and they then searched the whole house over, with the thought of finding money; they also fired Dr. Watson’s house….and they then proceeded to the rear-guard, the magazine of which they broke open plundering it completely of its contents.” All along they kept de Kantzow with them “Often was the piece of a Sepoy pointed at him, to be struck down or dashed aside by the hand of on one of his comrades..” Armed to the teeth, with some three hundred rounds of ammunition each and piled with Government stores, the sepoys procured camels to carry whatever ammunition they themselves couldn’t and thus proceeded to the Treasury, “bearing with them their earnestly gesticulating, madly imploring lieutenant.” (Malleson)
Arriving at the iron gates of the treasury de Kantzow decided to give it one last try.
“Left by his superior officer, unaided by the presence of Europeans, jostled with cruel and insulting violence, buffeted by the hands of men who had received innumerable kindnesses from him, and who had obeyed him a few hours ago, Lieutenant de Kantzow stood for three dreary hours against the rebels, at the imminent peril of his life.” (report of Mr. Power).
Appealing to the loyalty of the 30 men who had been deployed to guard the Treasury, de Kantzow found himself in luck. The men rallied around him and were soon joined by the jail guards.
For the first time since the outbreak on the parade ground, the sepoys were suddenly subdued by a single, solitary lieutenant. Taking the chance, de Kantzow forbade the civil guard from firing on the sepoys, instead drew up the guard in line in front of the treasury, and from this relatively safe position, he now turned his attention back to his mutinous men, imploring them to “not add plunder and murder to mutiny.” De Kantzow stood his ground and made them listen.
His efforts were not in vain. Unable to break open the doors of the treasury, they at least were brought back to some reason by their lieutenant – and they were further persuaded by the not too untimely arrival of Rao Bhawani Singh.
Back on the bridge, Mr. Power in the meantime had heard that de Kantzow was alive, if not exactly well, but certainly still holding his ground.
Desperate to help in some way, Mr. Power made ready to join de Kantzow at the treasury, but Rao Bhawani Singh held him back. The force at Power’s disposal was too small and the sepoys were most likely not in the mood for more Europeans. Certainly, Power himself was willing to listen to reason and sent a trusted emissary to the Lieutenant, asking him most earnestly, what should he do?
De Kantzow, amid all his pleading, managed a return reply to Power,
“desiring me not to come to the treasury, as the sepoys were getting quieted, and that my presence would only make matters worse, as they were yelling for my life.”
Rao Bhawani Singh went in his stead.
“This man, as brave as he was faithful, went unattended to the spot where de Kantzow stood at bay and used every art of remonstrance and persuasion to pacify and subdue the mutineers.”
Under the Rao’s influence, the sepoys agreed to quit the station, provided the Rao now went with them to which he acquiesced. The sepoys withdrew to the lines where they promptly looted the bell of arms and anything else they could find of worth, including some 6000 rupees. Thus satisfied, they dispersed, leaving Rao Bhawani Singh unhurt.
As for De Kantzow, he now hurried off to find Power. No longer on the bridge (which Power had chosen so that he “could keep the high road open; second to keep the sepoys from proceeding to the city, and the budmashes of the city from joining the sepoys.” (How he had intended to do any of those admirable things, Mr. Power does not reveal in his report), Power and his small party found themselves in the safety of the Rajah of Mynpoorie’s fort where de Kantzow finally found them.
That the treasure was saved in Mynpoorie was a fact Mr. Power wasted no time in pointing out to the government.
“I found on my return the whole of the Malkhana looted, the sepoys having helped themselves to swords, iron-bound sticks &c., which had accumulated during ages past. The staples of the stout iron-doors of the treasury had alone given way, but the doors themselves stood firm…The effce of the victory (if I may use such a term) over the sepoys, trifling though it may appear, has been of incalculable benefit. It has restored confidence in the city, and district, among the panic-stricken inhabitants, and I hope the safety of the treasure, amounting to three lac, will prove as an advantage in these troubled times to Government.”
Power did not forget to mention Rao Bhawani Singh who he credits with saving the station “by his coolness and tact”. Nor did he forget the men who protected de Kantzow, the 30 civil guards, who Power not only mentioned in name in his official report but found the means to reward them himself. As for Power, he remained in Mynpoorie, fortifying the only building he could amply protect – his own office. From here, he and the others awaited the return of Raja Tej Singh to the district.
The rajah had been absent from Mynpoorie at the time of the rebellion and his return did not fill Mr. Power with confidence. Sending emissaries throughout the district to draw mutineers to Mynpoorie, the Rajah succeeded in his calls and on the 29th of June, hearing that the mutineers from Jhansi were on their way, Power consigned the treasure to the care of Rao Bhawani Singh and the Rajah, and hastily made his way to Agra with his companions.
At Agra, Mr. Power and his brother would both serve in the Rifle Militia – while they slip into the quiet of history, Mr. Cocks would later be accoladed in the Dictionary of National Biography and even though the entry itself does not give much credit to Mr. Cocks – ” During the mutiny his district had fortunately been undisturbed so he did not gain so much credit as some of his colleagues; but his talent for administration, with the extraordinary affection he won from the natives, would have secured his promotion to high office if he had cared for it.” His service, however, was enough to gain him a CB in 1860.
Mr. Power would continue in the civil service, taking an appointment as a magistrate in Fatehgarh. There does not appear to have been a CB for him.
As for Lieutenant de Kantzow , his service up to 1863 alone, would be exhaustive.
One of these actions is described most eloquently by scholagladitoria:
“Lieutenant DeKantzow was present with the 9th Native Infantry during the operations undertaken against the Hill Tribes in ’55. Present at Mynpooree on, during, and subsequent to, the mutiny of the troops at that station, in May ’57; receiving Her Majesty the Queen’s gracious approbation, and Governor-General’s especial thanks, for the services rendered by him at the imminent peril of his life on that occasion.
Present with 39 Sowars in action at Bhowgong against the mutineers of the 7th Light Cavalry, 13th, 48th, and 71st Native Infantry (Detachments) from Lucknow, on the 6th June ’57, (wounded on the forehead by sabre) on which occasion, in hand to hand conflict, he killed the leader of the rebels.
Served at Mynpooree in Command of an Irregular Force up to the abandonment of the station, and subsequently as a Volunteer in the action of the 5th July ’57, near Agra, (horse killed under Him), against the Neemuch Mutineers, Kotah Contingent, 5th July ’57.
Served as a Volunteer in all the minor operations undertaken against the rebels in the Agra District, up to the 19th August ’57, and as Commandant of a Detachment of Agra Militia Cavalry in action near Allyghur, 24th August ’57, (mentioned in Despatch,) and subsequent operations of Colonel Montgomerie’s Column in that and the Agra District. Present as a Volunteer in the action of the 10th October, at Agra, against the Mhow, Indore, and Delhi Mutineers.
Served with Sir Hope Grant’s Column up to the re-occupation of Mynpooree, and as Commandant of the “”Muttra Horse”” in Colonel Cotton’s Moveable Force during the operations undertaken against the rebels at Futtehpore-Sikree, and elsewhere, in the Muttra district, as also subsequently, under civil power, to February ’58, raised the “”Futtehghur Organized Police Battalion,”” and served as Commandant of the same in action at Bungaon, (1 charger and 1 trooper wounded under him,) under Sir Thomas Seaton, and elsewhere in the Futtehghur District, (mentioned in Despatch).
Present at Shahjehanpore as Commanding the Cavalry at that station, and in action, 3rd May ’58, (mentioned in Despatch,) (charger slightly wounded,) and the defence of the Jail, and affairs subsequent to the relief of the garrison by Brigadier Jones, including the action of the 15th May (very dangerously wounded by sabre cuts on face and right arm in hand to hand encounter}.
Present as Commandant of the Rohilcund Auxiliary Levy (raised and organized by him,) in the defence of the Entrenchments and Town of Porvaine, from June to November ’58, and in the many and various offensive operations against the enemy at that place; including, the attack on the enemy’s outpost at Ameenuggur (thanked by the Government of India). Siege of Porvaine (thanked by the Government of India).
Served with the Levy on active service against the rebels in the North of the Shahjehanpore District, up to the 28th December ’58, and subsequently with the same across the Sarda; move on Pullea and expulsion of the rebels from the Town and Fort of that place, (thanked by the Government of India,) and pursuit of the rebels into the Khyreeghur and Mulwana Districts of Oude.
Present as a Volunteer with a Troop of Cavalry and two Companies of the Infantry of the Rohilcund Auxiliary Levy, with Brigadier Dennis’ Column, during the pursuit of the rebels in the Khyreeghur jungles and in the two actions fought with the mutineers in January ’59 (mentioned in Despatch); served with the Levy in active pursuit of the rebels up to the Nepal Border and subsequent operations undertaken in clearing the district from rebels and marauders, up to the very end of the disturbances (thanked by the Government of India).
Has received the gracious approbation of Her Majesty for “”excellent service”” rendered by him to the State in ’57, ’58. Been officially and especially reported to the Government of India, when leaving Rohilcund, in September ’59, for the “” valuable services”” rendered by the Force under his Command in Rohilcund, and honourably mentioned by the Government of the North-Western Provinces to the Government of India. Medal.
(War Services of Officers of the Bengal Army 1863)
In all, he would serve 33 years in India and end his career as a colonel.
“In giving this “Record of Service” in India during the thirty years 1853-1883 I feel that more than a passing word of apology is needed for the egoistic tone running through these recollections. With the best will to eliminate it, the first person singular appears with monotonous frequency. So it is the kind indulgence of my Readers that I submit this lengthy account of work performed abroad.
“In the days of Long Ago!” 1854-1860- The Indian Mutiny
33 years in India
Died Feb 1827 at 5 Chatham Place, Brighton.
Annals of the Indian Rebellion (1859)- Noah Alfred Chick
The History of the Indian Revolt and of the Expeditions to Persia, China and Japan (1859)- Charles Dodson
History of the Indian Mutiny, Vol 1. (1878) – Colonel G.B.Malleson
A History of the Sepoy War in India 1857-1858, Vol III (1876) – John William Kaye
A History of the Indian Mutiny (1891)- T.Rice Holmes
War Services of Officers of the Bengal Army, 1863 – transcribed by Peter Bailey for FIBIS