Hansi, May 29th, 1857
The following resumé of events which occurred at Hansi, Hissar and Sirsa in 1857, when Hureeanah Light Infantry and a portion of the 4th Irregular Cavalry mutinied is now published with a view to supply the imperfections of what has already appeared regarding this outbreak.
-Details of Occurances Regarding the Mutiny of the Hurreeanah Light Infantry at Hansie, on the 29th of May., 1857.
“On the 13th May intelligence was received at Hansie of the outbreak at Delhi, and of the massacre of the
Europeans at that station, and on the 20th of the same month, the 4th Irregular Cavalry marched to Kurnaul, to join the camp of his Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief. I collected as many sowars who were on furlough as I could, but they all turned traitors, with the exception of a few who were placed in town for its protection under a native office of the 1st Irregular Cavalry.
“On the 17th, Lieutenant Barwell, Adjutant of the Battalion, was sent to Hissar to assist the collector of the district in organising a body of horse and I was the only European officer at the Hurreanah Light Infantry. The different orders issued by the Commander-in-Chief regarding the obnoxious cartridges was duly explained to the men, and to all appearance, they were perfectly satisfied, indeed, I never heard a murmur. There were several false alarms, and the manner in which the men turned out and behaved tended to give me the confidence in them.
“On the 29th May, pay was disbursed by me, at my quarters, and there was nothing whatever in the demeanour of the men to create any suspicion in my mind of the impending danger, but at about half-past 11 o’clock on that very day, the troops broke out into open mutiny.
“Two or three men had told me that there would probably be a disturbance in the city and that some of
the sepoys might join; I immediately sent for the drill havildar to make the necessary arrangements to prevent any outbreak, but that man was already in his way to my house; his brother, jemadar of the corps, also came directly afterwards, they seemed deeply affected and declared that the regiment would certainly mutiny in less than an hour and implored me to fly and on no account come near the lines.
I clearly saw that no time was to be lost, and gave notice to all the European residents in cantonments and most of them soon were on the road to Hissar. I, of course, stayed behind and Assistant surgeon D. Scott and Messrs. Tapsell and Rich remained with me. “We were standing near the gateway of my compound, where my guard and orderlies were, but they did not attempt to molest us, and to the last made protestations of good faith; however in a few minutes, several volleys were fired at the sergeants, who, after having been warned by me, had returned to the lines after the family of the quartermaster sergeant. We then moved off slowly to get clear of the Irregular Cavalry Bazar, as I feared our retreat might be cut off. The two sergeants here joined us and told us they had been fired at, and that the sepoys were running towards my house. The whole cantonment was soon on fire and feeling sure that nothing could be done, I went on and overtook the fugitives in advance, about 10 miles from Hansie.
“It was fortunate for us that the 4th Irregular Cavalry did march from Hansie as the subsequent behaviour proved that they were not to be trusted. I had no means whatever of coercing the troops; not a man was to be depended on. Lieutenant Hillard, in command of the detachment at Sirsa, reported that there were rumours afloat affecting the loyalty of his men and that of the 4th Irregular Cavalry sowars, and his letter was forwarded to the Adjutant-General of the army. At the headquarters of the battalion, tow or three men were said to be disaffected, but no unfavourable report had reached me from Hissar; I, therefore, up to the last moment trusted all would have gone well. I was placed in a most trying situation, without the most remote hope of succour in case anything occurred.
“I had been upwards of 12 years in the battalion, which was second to no local corps in discipline and efficiency. The two men who gave me warning, and afterwards joined the mutineers, saved the lives of those who escaped from Hansie; 32 in number, for in the absence of that warning, I feel confident that we must all have been destroyed. The detachments at Hissar and Sirsa followed the example of their comrades at Hansie.
Lieutenant E. W. Barwell was killed at the former place, and Lieutenant T. H. Hilliard was murdered by some villagers when endeavouring to effect his escape.”
– Wm. J. F. Stafford, Captain, Late Commandant Hurreeanah Light Infantry Battalion, Hissar, 25 March, 1858
However, his first report was somewhat different. Written in Meerut in July 1857, Captain Stafford wrote:
“We were standing near my guard and orderlies; no allusion was made to the sepoys but fears were expressed of disturbances in the city taking place, but all the sepoys present laughed at the idea of anything of the kind likely to happen.
It should have been mentioned that Serjeants Murphy and Malone had, after they had been warned, returned to the lines, to bring away Mrs Malone and her children. Although only a few minutes could have elapsed since the Serjeants had left their bungalows, they found the whole regiment had turned out and was drawn up in quarter distance column near the magazine. Several volleys were fired at the Serjeants, who immediately fled. Malone rushed to my compound and reported what had occurred.
All now mounted and proceeded towards the irregular cavalry magazine from whence the sepoys were seen running here and there. After the warning given me that I should certainly be shot if I came near the lines, it was thought rank folly to attempt to reason with the men; as for coercing them, no means whatever of doing so existed.It may be mentioned en passant, that on two occasions, alarms (false) were given, and that the men turned out with the greatest alacrity.
It was now about 12 o’clock, in a very short time several houses were on fire. It was evident the Hissar detachment would also mutiny, if not already done so, and it was necessary to stop the fugitives in advance. They were overtaken about 10 miles off, where there is a canal bridge which was crossed and a northerly direction taken.
The party consisted of:
Mr Tapsel – collector of customs
Mr Rich – patrol
Mr Blewett- ditto and wife
Mr Wren – assistant patrol, wife and three children
Mr Herdon, – ditto,
Mr Hickie – assistant patrol
Mr Ives – ditto
Mr Tapsell – clerk
Quarter-Master Sergeant Malone
Mrs and Miss Tapsell
Mrs Brown and 2 children
Mrs Mackey and two children
a child of Mr Daniell’s
Mr A. Skinner and Sergeant-Major Murphy were seen about three miles and Mr J. Paul, wife and six children about seven miles, on the Hissar road. The following are supposed not to have left the cantonments viz:
Mrs Milne and two children
Mrs Malone and two children
Sub-Contractor Fitzpatrick, canal department, wife and four children.
We travelled all day and all night, with the exception of a couple of hours, and arrived at Khurruck in the Jheend Rajah’s territory, a little after sunrise, on the 30th.”
Leaving Hansi, they first made their way to Mirzapore where they were treated with kindness and even offered protection by the villagers. Stafford, finding the place too close to Hissar – which they could see was burning in the distance – they moved on. Within a few moments, they were fired upon by 4 sowars – Stafford and the men of the group fired back persuading their would-be attackers to desist. Mr. Daniell of the Hissar Patrol joined them on the road having intended to escape to Hansi.
The four sowars who had initially fired on the party soon overtook them – they claimed to have shot at them as a mistake and were willing to accompany them, as their protectors, as far as Jind and as long as they were paid the princely sum of Rs 150 each. One of the four had a change of heart and disappeared.
They reached Jind territory the next day, making a stop at Safidon with its ancient fort where they were welcomed by the Jind Raja. The next day, the 3rd of June, Stafford and his party met up with the brigade of General Harry Meggs Graves at Panipat – this crusty general was not particularly pleased with the women and children entering his lines, ordered them to immediately depart to Meerut with the 4th Lancers whom he happened to be sending there. Interestingly enough the only one who obeyed the order was Captain Stafford!
Hissar, May 29th, 1857
It was late morning on the 29th of May in Hissar when 4 sowars from Hansi arrived. Their first visit was to the kutchery which was just closing for the afternoon. The office assistants were the first to realise it was not going to be an ordinary day; as they drove off to their homes, they were fired upon. Turning their carriage around they drove with haste back to the kutchery – Mr. John Wedderburn, the collector and magistrate, was still there, waiting for his buggy to be brought around. Heeding their warning, he quickly retreated back towards the building calling on the guard to protect him, Their reply was to shoot Mr. Wedderburn in the head.
The four sowars were not waiting to let the grass grow under their feet – they made their way to the Kotwali (police station) where they found and killed the tehsildar and Mr. David Thompson. It was not as straightforward as they would have liked – Mr. Thompson had had enough time to lock himself in the building but his own peons murdered him instead.
It was still only 1 p.m. By now they had found their way to the fort – it was the encouragement the troops needed and Hissar broke out in open mutiny.
The Narratives of Mr. Hallet and Mr. Taylor
“On the 12th of May last, the usual dak from Delhi was not received here, which caused excitement in the station, but the cause was not known. On the 13th, the news of the fall of Delhi into the hands of the mutineers, and the great massacre of European lives, reached Hissar. Mr. Wedderburn, Collector, transferred the treasury from its old place near the Collector’s kutchery and deposited it in the fort, and he himself left his house, which was formerly occupied by Mr. Dumergue, and used to live with his family in the fort with Mr. Taylor. The treasury was guarded by 100 sepoys of the Hurrianah Light Infantry. Lieutenant and Mrs. Barwell, Adjutant of H.L.I., stopped with Mr. Wedderburn, and eighty more sepoys came from Hansi to join the Hissar sepoys; one hundred sowars of the Nuwab of Dadree, under Shah Noor Khan Ressaldar, being picketed in the fort garden; the newly employed twenty sowars of the irregular regiment were picketed outside near the western gate of the fort. There was a guard at the tehseel as also at the kutchery. These arrangements were going on for the safety of the town, and the quietness of the district, till the 28th of May.
For fifteen days previous to the outbreak neither sepoys nor chuprasees showed any signs of disaffection. These men were inside the fort avowedly for its protection. Meanwhile, a rumour gained ground that the assistant patrol at Ladwa, a Shahzada, had incited the men of the customs to revolt. Still, no change or incivility was observed. For further security, Mr. Wedderburn obtained from the Dadree Nuwab the services of fifty sowars, who afterwards showed themselves, traitors. He also tried to raise a corps of irregular horse; about ninety men and horses were entertained, but these were of no use, as they were kept outside the fort, while the sepoys were inside with the gate locked night and day. And besides were placed on the opposite side of the fort to that from which an attack was supposed could be made.
On the morning of the 29th, the gates of the city and fort were closed, as bodies of Khanjurs had been seen concealed in the Bheer. Mr. Wedderburn went to office at 10 a.m. At about 1 p.m, Mr. Taylor and myself, who had been playing at chess, were roused by a servant rushing in, to say that some Delhi sowars were outside the city gate and that Lieut. Barwell had gone down to see what was wrong. I immediately took up my pistol, and went outside the verandah, calling Mrs. Hallet, as I passed her room. When Mr. T. and myself got into the verandah, we saw two sowars ride up to the sentry, and after giving him some instructions turn round and dash off. Mr. T. and myself then went down to the gate, and I passed through the wicket, I then saw that Mr. Taylor had no arms, and told him to get his gun. He was then inside the wicket, and on turning, a volley was fired at us, one ball striking Mr. T. in the hand, another knocking my hat off. The wicket was immediately slammed to by the sentry. On seeing the wicket closed, I entered the garden outside the fort, and endeavoured to get into the house by the garden postern, but found it locked.
The two sowars (Dadree) on sentry at this gate, drew on me and their comrades, who were picketed in the garden rushing to the spot, I gave up all hope of being able to effect my entrance into the house, where I might have rescued my wife. I accordingly made for the city wall and had to shoot one sowar, which checked the others for a few minutes, during which I managed to scramble over the wall and dropped in the canal, over which I waded into a tank overgrown with rushes in which I lay concealed till 8 p.m. when I struck through the Bheer for Jheend, which I reached the day after. I will give Mr. Taylor’s escape in his own words:—‘I ran from the gate through a volley of bullets, and thought I heard you fall close behind me, as we both turned on hearing the first shot from the guard-room. The last I saw of your poor wife was standing at the railing, she screamed as she saw a fellow jump out of the rabbit house at me with a sword. I had just time to get into the house and seize either your’s or Barwell’s sword and cut the fellow down, and going to the back of the house to get time to tie up the wounds on my left hand, from which there was a stream of blood, the brutes fired at me again from the top of the office steps, but a pillar of the verandah saved me. I was hid for three days in the Bheer near Tulwundee, came to Thaneysur in disguise, reaching the border of Puttiala, the first night came on to Umballah and joined the company of volunteers.’
Mr. Hallet continues:
“Lieut. Barwell entered the garden two minutes after me, and tried to get in by the garden gate, he was cut down by the Dadree sowars. The force in Hissar, at the time of the outbreak, was two companies, Hurrianah’s, inside the fort, ninety-six sowars of the irregular regiment we were raising, picketed outside the fort, and about eighty Dadree and Jhujjur sowars, fifty of them being picketed in the fort garden. There was a guard at the Tehseel as also at the kutcherry. The treasure (1,70,000) was in the magazine in the fort. I heard most of the particulars of the loot and massacre from the brutes who came down to bathe about twenty yards from where I was concealed. They stated that sowars were out hunting for those who had escaped, who were to be brought in to be burnt in the houses.
It appears that Serjeant Shields received notice of the outbreak at half-past eleven, he tried to get into the fort to give us the intelligence, but could not, as the gates were closed. He then went round to Dr. Waghorn’s, and they tried to get a letter in, but it never reached us. They waited till the firing had commenced and then got off with the camels.”
Mrs. Halett had indeed been left to her fate and was murdered in her house. Her remains would never be found.
Mrs. Mary Ann Smith, the wife of the second clerk at the Collector’s office was at home with her 5 children. The sowars, on their tour of blood, were not long before they arrived at her gate. She was not slow to act – gathering up her children she ran out the back of her house and hid herself and them in a garden, not 150 feet from their residence and waited.
At the gate, the gardener told the sowars the memsahib was already at the fort but if it would suit the men, they could plunder and burn the house instead. The answer seemed to satisfy the sowars and they moved off. Mrs. Smith and the children might have been safe, but the human heart can be so cold.
The next visitor to seek out Mrs. Smith was a chowkidar name Bolee Bux- her husband had shown the man some good turn, saving him from starvation, and he was if anything, in Mr. Smith’s debt. Appearing kindness itself, the poor gardener told the chowkidar where to find Mrs. Smith. After all, the chowkidar had no reason to wish her ill, proclaiming he would save her and the little children. “But his object was far otherwise. For, no sooner did he find them, than he slew everyone, not even sparing the children.”
Mrs. Jeffries, the wife of the head clerk in the Collector’s Office, was the next stop for the sowars. They at least made quick work of shooting her but it was her servants who hacked her to pieces.
24-year-old Mrs. Alice Wedderburn and her 6-month-old son John James, with Mrs. Margeret Barwell had been living with their husbands for some weeks in the Fort, in the house of the superintendent of the Hissar Cattle Farm. Hearing the chaos of town, the ladies hid for some time at the top of the building.
Not that it really mattered. One of the ladies, perhaps unaware of the danger they were in, was most unfortunately seen from below – they were forced down from the roof and murdered, with no mercy for the infant, their bodies thrown outside the ramparts.
In a letter to his parents, Mr. Hallet wrote,
“My dear father and mother – Through the mercy of God I have escaped the awful fate of many of our countrymen out here. My poor Phoebe has, however, been murdered by these savages. I had heard some rumours of a rise in Delhi, and left on sick leave to Hissar two days before the Delhi massacre. Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Thompson and my two sisters were murdered in Delhi and my brother-in-law in Hissar. I am quite sick of everything – my child in November (he alludes to the untimely death of his firstborn) and then my poor little wife: it is very hard. I am laid up with chronic bronchitis. It was very fearful – walking one hundred miles without a hat, in the blazing sun, and have to wade through water up to my neck. I trust I shall get over it; and then what next? When I was lying concealed in the rushes, and the sepoys were firing all round about to see if anyone was concealed in the tank, I made a vow that if I escaped I would serve my God….I shall, as soon as this rebellion is over, save up, and as soon as I have sufficient to take me home and bring me out again, I shall come home, and endeavour to be ordained by Mr. Villiars, to go out as a missionary. I am a beggar now; only two shirts on my back, and one hundred rupees sent me by the Lahore relief fund. Excuse more, as I have not the heart to write. Holt and Ruth are safe in the fort at Saugor. God bless you all.”
Theirs had been but a short marriage. J.E. Hallet married Phoebe M. Thompson, daughter of Reverend J.F. Thompson at Delhi on the 9th of May 1855. Mr. Hallet kept his promise and returned to India in 1859 as a missionary, but it was but a short stay – in 1860, he gave up his post and he fades out of history.
Sir John Wedderburn second baronet of Balindean, had had a long and exalted career of 30 years in the Bombay Civil Service, having arrived in India in 1807. His eldest son John – born in Bombay on the 9th of May 1825, would follow in his father’s footsteps.
After completing his education in Edinburgh at the Loretto School and the Edinburgh Academy, John graduated from Haileybury and went out to India in 1844, not to Bombay like his father but to Bengal. He quickly gained a reputation for himself as a civilian of promise, having been one of the few selected for an appointment to the newly annexed region of Punjab in 1849, first in Multan and shortly after as the Deputy Commissioner of Lahore.
After ten years, John Wedderburn went home on furlough for the first time. He was 30 years old, his career in the service was secure and like many civilians, one of his objectives on his long leave would have been to find a wife. John met and married Alice Bell (daughter of the late Dandeson Coates Bell of the Bombay Medical Board) in January 1856. Alice herself had been born in Bombay in 1833. Their son, John James was born in Edinburgh on the 15th of November 1856, shortly before the happy family travelled to India. They would arrive in Hissar in the spring of 1857.
As Magistrate and Collector at Hissar, John Wedderburn would have been placed in a severely precarious position. Although Boarding on the Bikaner desert, Hissar had been singled out for exceptionally high taxation under the assessment of the land revenue officials – which, considering the barrenness of the land, seems absurd. Mr. Wedderburn had the unfortunate task of demanding the taxes which were deemed due. Under such a premise he had little chance of securing the trust of the local landlords nor was he familiar with the people and he had no choice but to believe in promises of fidelity pro offered by the Haryana Infantry.
With the post becoming irregular and the news from Hansi hardly reassuring, Mr. Wedderburn did what was in his power to secure his station. Removing his family and the government treasure to the fort, Mr. Wedderburn quickly raised a regiment of irregular horse and procured 100 troopers from the Dadri chief. On the 26th of May, he wrote one of his last letters to the government secretary at Agra. He was all too aware that his position was untenable.
Hissar, Tuesday 26th May
“Sir, — The police reports are now full of cases of petty plundering on the roads, and even on a larger scale, one village driving off a number of cattle belonging to another village, and so on. In some of these the robbers have been seized, and the police hold their own pretty well, but in others they are obliged to content themselves with recording, and taking proofs of the cases for future consideration. No confirmation of the state of things in Rohtuk yet, but the dak is stopped ; we are consulting Post towards about a reconnaissance in force with our horsemen in that direction, stopped. I am advancing money for the use of the new levies under Mr. Barwell. Nothing has reached me from Agra yet; there is a capital dak from Lahore via Gogaira, Fazilka, Sirsa to this, and Post open to I have today laid eight camels on the road to Kurnal, — thus we shall have a double line there, and the Bhewani-Seekur one besides; it is to be hoped all will not fail; letters for the Lieut. -Govr., Agra, and Mr. Secy. Edmonstone, Calcutta, were forwarded from the Punjab by to-day’s dak via Kurnal ; a second heavy despatch went by Rhewary. The C.-in-C. has ordered the 57th N.I. and remnant of the 45th to be turned out of Ferozepore without a fraction of pay; they will increase the plunderers in our rear, even if they don’t come down in a body.
It is now a fortnight since we heard of the outbreak, and a dreadful one of suspense it has been; we look for brighter tidings soon. There certainly has been something wrong at Rohtuk, tho’ by whom or to what extent still uncertain.“
The very men that Mr. Wedderburn had entrusted with the safety of Hissar proved faithless. Caught in his office building, unable to flee, Mr. Wedderburn called on the sepoys and the Dadri troopers to protect him, instead, they shot him dead. Unbeknownst to him, his wife and son would soon be dead for “Lovely in their lives, in death they were not long divided, and each was spared the agony of knowing the other’s fate.”
When Hissar was retaken, all that could be found of Mr. Wedderburn was his skull and a few bleached bones of his wife and son. They were buried together in Hissar with the remains of the other victims of the 29th of May.
Although he may not have approved, John Wedderburn survived for a time in Hissar as a Muslim saint. The monument had been mistaken by an elderly villager as a tomb of a “pir” – and in her desperation to secure a positive outcome for her son’s upcoming criminal trial, she offered a prayer at the monument. Following her son’s acquittal, she brought offerings of wine and fruit and lit a clay lamp as thanks.
Hearing of her apparent success, others soon left gifts of their own mostly small bottles of whiskey and eggs (something that apparently the British enjoy the most) at the monument, all hoping to gain the favours of Pir John Wedderburn.
SIRSA, May 29th, 1857
Excerpts from the narrative of Dr. P.A. Minas.
“On the 29th of May, about 4000 budmashes collected at a neighbouring village, for plundering Futteabad. It was considered advisable by Capt. R. Robertson, superintendent of Bhutteeana, that a small military force should be sent out for the protection of the same; under the command of Lieut. T.H. Hilliard, a company of Hurrianah light infantry battalion and fifty sowars belonging to the detachment of the 4th irregular cavalry were accordingly sent out. They marched at 1 am of the 30th of May. At about 5 a.m. of the same day two letters were brought, one for the subadar of H.L. infantry battalion, the other for the rissildar of the 4th irregular cavalry, by two camel sowars from Hissar, containing information of the massacre, of the native infantry regiments and Jhujjur troopers, of all the European inhabitants of Hansi and Hissar, and urging these men at Sirsa to adopt the same course. The treasurer of Sirsa – Futteh Chand khazanche – immediately afterwards confirmed the dreadful news by cossid from his brother in Hissar.”
With such worrying news at hand, it was deemed prudent to send the women and children as far away from Sirsa as time allowed. The village of Sohuwalla was decided upon, some ten miles distant. Thus unencumbered, the gentlemen resolved to stay behind.
“When however, the infantry had taken possession of the treasury, the troopers were preparing for an attack – although it was until then believed, that the greater portion of the latter with the native officers were “staunch to the backbone” – and a large number body of customs peons, who were brought in by the collector of customs, for the protection of the town, refused to open the gates. By 9 a.m., the gentlemen considered it prudent to fly for safety, and this was affected by leaping over a ditch which was more than half full of water, the only safe outlet and they afterwards joined members of their families who were anxiously and impatiently waiting for them.”
At this junction, Captain Robertson bundled his family together and they fled in the direction of Fazilka, only to face immeasurable danger from pursuit and attacks – they persisted for 40 miles after which it became obvious they would be unable to reach their planned destination. Robertson turned off to Ferozepore instead.
The rest of the fugitives some 20 in number decided their best hope lay in reaching the territory of the Patiala Raja, little realising it what their flight would entail. The news from Sirsa was hardly encouraging – “…a detachment of cavalry had left Sirsa, in pursuit of Europeans in different directions; and that the customs peons were plundering the town. The men of the police battalion – or jail guards – joined them, after setting the prisoners free.” It was with no little haste they left Sohuwalla.
Leading the party was Mr. Donald the assistant superintendent. His intention had been to make as swift an escape as possible and he struck out with haste towards Patiala. Perhaps, in hindsight, they might have considered leaving some of the property behind. The cart of Mrs. Bowles things could not keep up with the pace and was summarily plundered at the first opportunity by villagers at the first village they passed through. Without stopping, Mr. Donald urged his party onwards – but by 2 a.m., on passing another village, the inhabitants “came out yelling and screaming, they followed us for upwards of 2 miles, but retired when a few random shots were fired at them.” At 3.30 in the morning, exhausted, the party reached Rori “where at first the lumbardars, police establishments and other villagers gave every assurance of safety, but as the day began to advance, they began to change their tone very rapidly. By 3 p.m., preparations were being made by them for attacking us. At 5 p.m., these horrible scoundrels surrounded us on every side; they were armed mostly with very long spears, gandasses &c.“
Mr. Donald had not been so naive as to believe his luck would hold. Having sensed the villagers were becoming surly, he had quickly purchased whatever gunpowder he could find from a local shopkeeper.
It was further in their fortunes that Rori had an old mud fort – though not a perfectly defendable position it had high, loop-holed walls and large bastions. Hastening inside, they closed the gates – only to realise that while they had gunpowder (and the villagers had none) they had neither a well for water inside nor brought in any food. It could have ended here for Mr. Donald and his party, but friends can be found in strange places and one Baba Janki Das, a local fakir, brought them the supplies of water and flour under cover of darkness, slipping the provisions under the fort gates. (in Dr.Minas’ account, the party had purchased the provisions themselves and there is no mention of a fakir, however, I will leave both scenarios as a possibility) Mr. Donald was able to get a letter off to the vakeel of the Patiala Raja at his fort in Dhoodal, imploring for help.
“It is curious to remark that seeing the determination of the villagers, the whole of the police establishment deserted us, except Bejoo Singh, the thanadar, with whom four or five persons remained faithful, and who by his courage, watchfulness and activity, kept the whole mob at a distance. To his vigilance and adherence, we owe our escape from this place.”
On the 2nd of June, their letter was answered by the arrival of 100 horsemen sent by the Patiala Raja’s vakeel. It would take another 8 days to reach Patiala -“where thanks to the kindness of the Maha Rajah, we were allowed to put in that spacious garden, built by his father, called Bara-Dwaree. He treated us sumptuously and generously; his reception of us was friendly; and his manner, when he visited us, was extremely courteous…For about a fortnight we enjoyed the hospitality and protection of the Maha Rajah. All the ladies were sent from hence to Kussowlie, and the gentlemen returned to Sirsa on the morning of the 30th of June.”
Dr. Minas and the others had been lucky and fortune had smiled on them.
Not so for Lieutenant Hilliard.
We had left him, on the 29th of May, riding out with his detachment to deal with the reports of suspected plundering. At the village of Jodhka, Lieutenant Hilliard called for a halt and so he could see Mr. J. Goulding of the customs patrol of the place. While gathering information, he was joined by his brother-in-law, Mr. Fell of the Durbee assistant patrol.
It was Subadar Ranjit Singh however, who told Lieutenant Hilliard that Sirsa was up in arms – news of which caused Hilliard to gather up his detachment and proceed back to the station, Mr. Fell accompanying them. Respectful to the last would be the same subadar, as night began to fall, would present the two men with Rs. 150 and desire them to “go where ever they wished.”
Leaving the detachment, as there was obviously no use trying to change their minds from mutiny, Hilliard and Fell naturally made their way to Sohuwalla, unaware their families were no longer there. “…but being late, they enquired which direction they had gone to, and where they intended to follow, but a demon son of lumberdar of Chuttereeah (Chatryan) persuaded them to pass by his village, where they were cruelly murdered by the infamous mob collected there.”
With all semblance of order gone, Sirsa fell into anarchy. “The district villages created unheard of mischief; after plundering the houses of the European residents, they ransacked the town of Sirsa and ultimately commenced fighting amongst themselves. For about seventeen days groups of villagers visited this and carried off cartloads of plundered property, not a single fold of a door, posts &c., was left untouched…On our return, no trace of any living being was to be seen at Sirsa, its city deserted, and homes tenantless. The compounds of our houses were spangled with relics of broken glasses and plates, the remains of our fractured house gear, and within the houses nothing remained, save bare walls.” To avoid the fighting, those residents who could, fled to Bikaner. The tahsildar of Sirsa, the local revenue collector and the Kotwali were all murdered by the mob.
NAMES OF THOSE WHO PERISHED
Mrs. Mary Anne Milne, (wife of Major Milne), and her two children, Emily and James. Murdered in the Sikandarbagh (Skinner’s Garden)
Sergeant Fitzpatrick, overseer Canal Department and child
Mrs. Malllowe (Malone) and two children
Mr. Joseph Williams, Superintendent of Customs, and daughter
Murdered on the road to Hissar
Sergeant-Major Murphy, Haryana Light Infantry, killed near Mungalee
Mr. John Paul, HEICo Civil Service, son of Lt. General Paul. His wife, Jane and their six children, Anny, Letitia, Alice, Agnes Thomas and Evelyn. Murdered in Sartoy, ten miles from Hansi.
John Wedderburn, Collector and Magistrate, wife Alice and son John James
Lieutenant E.W. Barwell, Adjutant Haryana Light Infantry and wife, Margaret
Mrs. Phoebe Hallet, wife of Mr. J.E. Hallet, Customs Department
Mrs. Mary Anne Smith, aged 31, wife of E.C. Smith, 2nd Clerk, Collectors Office, and 5 children
William Edwin John, aged 12
Henry Edward, aged 10
Thomas George, aged 7
James Charles, aged 5
Anne Margaret, aged 7 months and 23 days
Mrs. Jeffries, wife of Mr. Jefferies, Head Clerk, Collectors Office
Mr. David Thompson, Tuhseeldar,brother of Mrs. Hallet
Lieutenant J.H. Hilliard, second in command, Haryana battalion
Mr. J.W. Fell, Assistant Patrol, Customs Department
Murdered on the 30th of May at Chartryan, Sirsa District
Names of those who escaped
Captain William J. Fitzmaurice Stafford, wife and child
Mr. Tapsell, Collector of Customs
Mr. Vaughan and two children
Mr. Blewitt, sister-in-law and two children
Mr. Scarden, wife and three children
Mr. Warren, wife and three children
Mr. Herdon, and wife
Mrs. Tapsell, son and daughter
Mr. A. Skinner
Mr. Daniels, wife and child
Mrs. Hilliard wife of Adjutant J.H. Hilliard, and infant, one week old
Mr. Wrottesley and wife
Mr. A.J.S. Donald, wife, infant and three daughters
Mr. P. Minas, wife and infant
Mr. T.W. Moore
Mr. W.H. Bowles, mother and two Misses Bowles
The Anglo-Indian Almanack, 1858
Annals of the Indian Rebellion – Noah Alfred Chick (1859)
Histories of Scottish Families – Wedderburn Book, Vol. 1, History – Alexander Wedderburn, (1898)
Records of the Intelligence Department of the Government of the North-West Provinces – Sir William Muir, (1902)
List of Inscriptions on Tombs or Monuments in the Punjab, N.W. Frontier Province, Kashmir and Afghanistan Vol II. (1910)
The History of the Indian Mutiny, Vol. 1 – Charles Ball (1912)
History of Sirsa Town – Jugal Kishore Gupta, (1991)
The Uprising of 1857 in Sirsa District – Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Dr. Sheetal Mehta, © 2018 IJCRT | Volume 6, Issue 1 January 2018 | ISSN: 2320-2882
Lives Retold, the Short Life of John Wedderburn, http://www.livesretold.co.uk