Although we have looked in detail at Captain Scot’s escape from Nowgong and eventual arrival in Banda, there are but scant reports of what happened to the rest of the party. Scot, when presenting his final report, did his best to supply some details as to their fates. However, he did not have the full story of their escapes and this narrative shall attempt to fill in some of the gaps in his narrative.
The pivotal incident which split the Nowgong party apart was the attack by the villagers on the 20th of June, in which Scot’s horse was speared, causing it to flee in pain and terror, taking Scot, Smalley and little Lotty Mawe with it. Remington chased after them while Lieutenant Franks was attacked by Mrs. Kirchoff’s horse which chased him around, all the while he was shooting at the villagers who were pursuing him. In the chaos they lost sight of the rest of the party. Some of these left their own accounts.
Account by Sergeant Kirchoff
The last time Scot saw of Kirchoff was as his wife was trying to drag him along by her hand until she fell off her horse. However, Kirchoff has another tale to tell.
In his account, Sergeant Kirchoff makes mention of the death Mrs. Smalley, who died of sunstroke before arriving in Mahoba. Sergeant Major Lucas was the next to go, “after stretching a few times he fell, and never stilled more for about three minutes from this, and shortly afterwards expired; he buried under a tree close to the spot.” He was shortly afterwards followed by Mr. Langdale, however it would appear, as we will see later, he was mistaken.
The party had been joined by large number of bandsmen and drummers both from Jhansi and Nowgong – they had been promised service under the rebels but many chose to desert that new army and take their chances with Captain Scot. It was these additions to the party that had so irritated the sepoys. It had very likely less to do with them mostly being Eurasians but more because there were so many of them – although no one gives an accurate number, it was probably close to 50 people, with their wives and children included. A handful of sepoys would never have been able to protect such a large party, no matter how much Scot wanted to believe it. However, many of the bandsmen chose to leave the party at Kabrai and move off on their own.
Kirchoff omits mentioning what happened when they were attacked by the villagers, probably with so many witnesses to his ineptitude at mounting a horse, he felt it better left unsaid. However, he also neglects to relate how he saved his wife.
What he mentions is after the initial attack they were obliged to run for it as best they could, some of the pursuers were killed but Kirchoff fails to mention who it was who fired the shots. It could only have been Lieutenant Jackson or Lieutenant Ewart – Kirke was hampered by his rather large gun and the fact he had a little baby in his arms.
In the ensuing hours, they would lose sight of Dr. and Mrs. Mawe (whose tale will be recounted later) when they fell off their horse. The horse ran off and for some inexplicable reason, the Mawes were simply left behind.
After leaving the doctor and his wife to meet their fates as best they could, Lieutenant Barber (who Scot pronounced thin as a skeleton and unable to do 2 days work) fell from his horse, sunstruck. There were no attempts made to bury him or to even ascertain if he was dead, but he was left where he lay.
The party was now reduced to Mrs. Kirchoff, Lieutenant Jackson, Lieutenant Ewart, Henry Kirke and the Smalley baby.
Like Scot they believed if they entered Banda they would be murdered (though as we have seen the opposite was true) they merely skirted around it and continued their flight towards Nagode. They had a little more luck than Scot did. The next village where they stopped proved to be friendly and they were able to rest the night in peace, and given ample food and water, while their horses were well tended. The next morning, with two villagers acting as guides, they proceeded onwards, stopping next in a village called Munsoory.
Here, they got off their horses to rest themselves a little – not their wisest decision. Lieutenant Jackson, having heard something that alarmed him, called for the party to mount again with haste, giving the Smalley baby again to Henry Kirke, while he took Mrs. Kirchoff behind him. As for the Sergeant, he had rather imprudently tied his horse a little way off.
After he managed to untie his horse and get in the saddle, several villagers had surrounded him. One hit him on the head with lathi while the others proceeded the beat him as he lay helpless on the ground. The rest of the party did not require another invitation and fled, leaving Kirchoff behind, presumed dead.
However, the erstwhile Sergeant was merely stunned. Robbed of all he possessed, they let him go and Kirchoff struggling to his feet, would walk the rest of the way to Ajegarh, arriving on the 25th of June.
The Escape of Mr. V.J. Sturt
Mr. Sturt was not from Nowgong. He was in fact attached to the garrison at Jhansi. He had however, made his escape from that station disguised as a native after the massacre of the Europeans there and had made his way to a village, escorted by 2 friends. He joined Captain Scot after they left Chhadarpur on the 14th of June and would remain with them until the 19th when they left Kabrai.
He had been persuaded by some sepoys and a guide to make his way to village called Mirka in the Chhadarpur territory, where, while asking around for Scot’s party, he was attacked. “While I was speaking to them, one wrenched my sword from my belt, and the other aimed a blow from behind with his sword. Luckily I saw this in time, and fired at him with my revolver, which had the effect of weakening his hand so that I only got off with a scratch; other men were persuing me, when my beast of a horse made a dead stop which obliged me to leave him to his fate and trust to my legs, to gain my party…”
He stayed with them until Kabrai.
When the party started off that night, Sturt found he could no longer keep up. He was so exhausted after his 20 mile walk in the sun that day, he quietly stopped and unperceived by the others, became separated. Scot would later claim Sturt had willingly disengaged himself, and disguised as a native, pursued his own course. This was not quite the truth.
Realising he would never catch up, Sturt found a hollow in which to rest himself a little before proceeding through the countryside for the remainder of the night. At daybreak, he came to a village, where he was once again attacked and robbed of what little he had left. He was then chased out of the place.
Driven on by thirst, Sturt tried in vain to find a well. Providence however can come to those who persevere, and not long after he saw a group of men carrying water vessels. Instead of approaching them (Sturt had by now learned his lesson), he followed them until he could muster the courage to ask them for a drink. It was fortunate he did.
As he stood conversing with the men, a zamindar came up and seeing Sturt’s rather bewildering appearance, offered him shelter at his village, saying he could stay as long as he liked. Grateful for a little kindness at last, Sturt went with him.
Although he was not met with much comfort – the food was course and his bed was the hard ground in a shed – it was certainly better than he could have expected. Shelter was all they would give him and he could not persuade anyone to take a message for him either the Nawab of Banda or their own Chirkari Raja. After a fortnight, his luck changed once again.
Some of the Chirkari Raja’s men who happened to be passing through the village, convinced Sturt to accompany them. On arriving at Chirkari, his case was immediately reported to the Raja who most kindly took him under his protection and Sturt was taken to the quarters given to Mr. Carne, that most fortunate of collectors. Here they remained until it was safe for them to proceed onwards to Nagode.
This is not the end of the accounts of Nowgong. We will turn our attention now to Lieutenant Jackson of the 12th BNI after leaving Chhadarpur.
Lieutenant Jackson’s Ride
Lieutenant Jackson had left Chhadarpur on the night of the 12th, not waiting for Captain Scot and Lieutenant Townsend to return from their fool’s errand to Nowgong as they imagined the two officers dead. News had been given to them to that effect (Scot had been told, on the other hand, that Major Kirke and the others were dead, so neither had any great expectations of a wiedersehen).
Lieutenant Jackson makes no mention of Major Kirke being off his head, he simply states that on the morning of the 15th, Scot and Townsend arrived in Mahoba, with the major. Mr. Carne set off on his own road, Jackson believed him on his way to Mirzapur.
The party which left Mahoba was as follows:
all the officers of the 12th BNI;
Lieutenant Townsend of the artillery
Sergeant Major Lucas of the 12th BNI
a sergeant of the artillery whose name is not known
All the Christian drummers and buglers of the 12th, except one named John Nimrod who chose to follow the mutineers instead
Bugler Roderick of the artillery with his family
Station-staff officer Mr. Langdale
Writer to Lieutenant Jackson, Mr. Patrick Johnson
Dr. Mawe, wife and child
Mr. Smalley – bandmaster of the 12th – with wife and infant
invalided subadars Doolar Tewarry and Nudhan Missah
Jemadars Emam Bux and Ramdutt Tewarry
ten non-commissioned native officers and 82 sepoys.
Sergeant Kirchoff and his wife made up the rest.
This sizable party was distributed over a variety of conveyances, mostly bullock hackeries and numerous horses. Given the poor state of the roads and the inevitable slowness of the bullocks, they had barely cleared Mahoba by the 18th of June stopped at a village called Joorah.
Here they were found by Mr. Carne who brought with him money, some 1000 rupees lent to him by the Raja of Chirkari for the express purpose of paying the sepoys their dues for the month of May.
“Towards the afternoon we heard that a number of matchlockmen under the command of a man styling himself Prann Sing intended to dispute passage, or, at any rate attack us, and in fact we saw large numbers of armed men at this time stationed on the hills immediately overlooking the spot on which were encamped..”
The native officers immediately gave Scot and the others to understand they would in no way risk their lives for them (according to Scot, they were not willing to protect the women and children but only their officers), and told them they should pay off the hostile parties that now menaced them, that they might not only leave them unmolested, but also give them safe passage to Kalinjur.
“At this time were were entirely in the hands of the native officers and men, as although those with us had taken no part in the mutiny….they were completely demoralized and under little or no control…”
The money was duly paid and an agreement was signed with an oath of supposed fidelity which was meant to be binding (it wasn’t) and the sum of 700 rupees was paid to Prann Singh on the spot with another 300 rupees promised on their safe arrival in Kalinjur (they never went).
The next morning, on the 19th of June, perhaps thinking the Europeans were worth more dead than alive, the matchlock men commenced firing on the party. They were providentially hidden behind some rocks but it was of no use.
“All order amongst our men (notwithstanding the efforts of their officers) was immediately at an end. With the exception of some twelve or fourteen men who made a stand, the party commenced a disorderly retreat…Lieutenant Townsend, artillery, was shot dead, also one sepoy. Mahdid Subadar Dootah Teewarry was shot in the stomach and died afterwards, and two or three sepoys wounded. The retreat soon became a flight, men fired in the air without any purpose, others threw off their accoutrements and made for the jungle, the remainder made for Mahoba as fast they could, and we the officers had no alternative but to go with them…”
Lieutenant Ewart rode on in advance to make enquiries but came back saying that a sizeable force had gathered at Mahoba and he had been fired upon. Herewith Mr. Carne left and made his own way to the Chikari Raja.
The remaining sepoys, upon hearing what Ewart had to say, struck off towards Kobrai. They gave their officers every intimation that they no longer considered themselves under any orders whatever, and one or two went even further, lamenting they had ever joined the officers in this madness for it would certainly lead to their deaths. They did however allow the party (according to Jackson) to accompany them to Kobrai – a city Scot states they were scared to enter.
On the road to Kobrai, Major Kirke died of sunstroke, shortly followed by Sergeant Major Lucas, Mrs. Smalley and Mrs. Roderick (mother of the artillery bugler) succumbed to the same cause.
Captain Scot has left a long account of the sojourn in Kobrai and as Jackson’s narrative agrees with it, there is no point going over it again. The Christian drummers and bandsmen had had about as much as they could take for now: in a body they left the fugitives, some making for Kobrai to join the rebel forces in order to save their lives, others staying in the city itself, seeking patronage from an individual who had offered them protection.
The party was getting noticeably smaller and now consisted of
Lieutenant Barber (Jackson calls him Barker)
Ensign (according to Scot, Lieutenant) Franks
Dr. Mawe, wife and child
Mr. Smalley and child
Sergeant Kirchoff and wife.
They set off from Kobrai with nine horses and those who could not ride were forced to walk. During the night they lost their way in the dark and decided to remain in a grove of trees until dawn – Scot says it was the lack of water that caused them to stop, Jackson simply states they no longer knew where they were on the vast Indian plain.
By dawn they set off again, realising they were not more than eight miles outside Banda, and their intention was to cross the Ken River some three or four miles upstream, and remain to the right of Banda. Not that they got that far.
Lieutenant Jackson asked a villager to show them the way to the river; (this is where Barber offered 1000 rupees to be taken to Calcutta, which started the whole fracas) but he raised the alarm instead, and within moments six or seven men came charging after the party, assaulting them with lathis. Although the party was “mostly armed” Jackson claims they did not shoot as they were “averse to take life without being compelled to do so,” and from fear of bringing even more attackers upon themselves. Scot on the other hand, details how they were hampered – he had a small child in his arms and only one bullet in his pistol, Smalley wasn’t armed at all, Kirke couldn’t use his gun and besides he was holding a baby, Remington fled as soon as Scot’s horse bolted, Franks was suddenly confronted by Mrs. Kirchoff’s terrified horse which attacked his and Jackson suddenly found himself as the only man able to take on their assailants.
After Scot and the others had left, thinking that they were certainly dead, Mrs. Kirchoff who had fallen from her horse, was struck twice with a lathi. Her would-be murderer was on the point of sticking a spear through the poor woman when her husband interposed and, grabbing the weapon from the man struck him with it through the chest, thus saving his wife’s life. Henry Kirke managed to shoot one assailant through the head while Jackson pulled Mrs. Kirchoff up behind him. They then commenced a hasty retreat towards the river.
The party had dwindled to nine, including the Smalley’s baby. “We were pursued in every direction by the villagers, and we suffered much from thirst, and had gone again to the river to get some water when some armed men came upon us. We immediately started off as fast as possible, and when we had gone some distance we found the horse on which Dr Mawe and his wife had been riding following us, but without a rider…” There was no chance to go back to look for the Mawes and Jackson would only later hear that Mrs. Mawe was safe in Banda.
Lieutentant Barber was the next to go, dying of sunstroke, his weakened frame unable to withstand the stress and the sun. He had lost his senses shortly before, needing Ewart and Kirke to look after him. At one point he kept shouting, “It’s alright, it’s alright,” and attempted to flee but could not manage but a few steps.
That night, the 20th of June, they arrived at a village on the Allahabad road, still 9 miles from Banda. It was sunset and there was no possibility of going further without food or water. For once the villagers did not want their heads or their possessions; they took the fugitives in and provided them with food and a place to rest. The next morning two guides were organised to show them the way to Kallinjur. They were advised once again to avoid Banda but proceed to Nagode so this was the road they chose to follow.
The 21st of June and the days that followed would prove worse than what they had already endured.
“Our sufferings this day from the heat and thirst were intense. We were hunted like dogs where ever we were found, and about, I should say, 2o’clock, Lieutenant Ewart died from the sun or exhaustion, or both combined. We tried to get water for him, but were immediately pursued by the villagers. Shortly after this Mr. Smalley’s child died.”
Their party had dwindled to besides Lieutenant Jackson, Henry Kirke, and Mrs. Kirchoff.
A little before sunset they fell in among eight villagers “who had determined to stick by each other and remain faithful to the Government. Had we not thus providentially fallen amongst friends at this moment we could not have held out much longer, as my horse was scarcely able to get along, as we must have come that day I should say forty-five miles, and a great deal of the distance at a hard gallop.” Finally treated with much kindness, they were able to rest peacefully through the night. The next day their new friends removed the 3 fugitives to a stronger village and Lieutenant Jackson was able to send off a message to the Rani of Ajeghar, requesting protection. She immediately granted it and they arrived at her fort on the 23rd of June. The distance of 12 miles was passed under a strong guard of matchlock men provided by the village that had taken them in.
Here they were reunited shortly after with Sergeant Kirchoff and on the 29th of June, this time riding an elephant, they arrived in Nagode.
There appears here an interesting passage in which Lieutenant Jackson lays the blame for the state of the countryside squarely on the shoulders of the Nawab of Banda, who may, even at this early time been playing a dual role. On one hand, he was moving the earth to save Europeans but at the same time, he had dispersed his troops throughout the district to proclaim the Company’s rule was at an end. He had a vested interest to appear, at least on the outside, a man of his people, he had after all declared himself regent.
An Account by G. Langdale, late Clerk to Captain P.G.Scot
It is interesting to note that not only Sergeant Kirchoff declared Langdale was dead but Scot makes mention of it. However, he was, for all intents and purposes very much alive.
It is very likely through this disorganised rout of a flight, he had been mistaken for someone else.
His narrative starts on the 10th of June when Mr. G. Langdale went for his evening walk. At 6pm he left his house but scarcely 20 minutes later, he heard the report of fire-arms, followed by the bugles of the 12th and the trumpets of the 14th Irregular Cavalry sounding the “turn out.” He did not return home; instead, Mr. Langdale continued walking, straight out of Nowgong. He hid himself as best he could in nullah where he remained for an hour. Realising he was by no means far enough, he proceeded through the jungle, arriving at 2 in the morning at a small village, hoping to find shelter. However, he was chased off and ended up wandering hither and thither without a clue as where he was going.
Langdale finally reached a second nullah (a nullah is in the modern terms a ditch of sorts usually for transporting sewage, however, in this context it appears to be hollow or a dry waterway). He laid down for a moment under some bushes but his unquiet rest was disturbed by a goatherd. Leaping to the chance to ask for directions, Langdale asked the man which way was Lugasi. The man replied it was very far away and not at all safe to reach. Not liking the look of the goatherd, Langdale went further up the nullah and again concealed himself under some bushes. The goat herd proved to be most persistent. Here again he appeared but this time he had friends with him – 2 men carrying axes. They made show of searching the bushes, slowly edging their way towards the crouching Mr. Langdale.
Langdale leaped to his feet and ran as fast as he could, his would-be killers shouting at him to stop, which he had no intention to do though they followed him for the next 2 miles. By the time they gave up, Langdale found himself in the thick of the Lugasi jungle.
Fatigue overtook him and he threw himself on the ground, again under a bush where he fell asleep. When he awoke he found the sun burning his skin and his throat so parched he feared he would choke. In this state, he continued his march.
Towards evening he found a road, where it led he didn’t know but chose to follow it anyway. With luck, it took him straight to into Lugasi territory.
He found a well at which he stopped and filled bucket after bucket of water pouring it down his throat until he felt he could finally speak again. Astonished by just how much water one man could drink, the people around it watched him with some curiosity. Asking them if they could advise him what to do next, they hastily said he should avoid the next village by all costs, mutineers had been by in the morning, asking about fugitives. They advised him to go back to the jungle. Mr. Langdale had no intention of retracing his steps.
It would appear a message had been sent to the Lugasi Raja regarding this strange man who had just popped out of the jungle – shortly after a man came and told Langdale the Raja himself was sending him an invitation to accompany him. Unprepared for this change in fortunes, Langdale decided to take the risk. It turned out to be genuine.
The Lugasi Raja treated Langdale with utmost courtesy and kindness, asking him many questions about the mutiny in Nowgong and in particular about the safety of the officers. Langdale knew nothing.
He stayed the night under the Raja’s protection. The next morning Langdale was told by the Raja he was about to write a letter to Major Kirke who was at Chhadarpur and he intended to send a spy to Nowgong to see if the mutineers had finished with the station.
The next day, Major Kirke’s reply arrived. From him, Langdale found out his wife was safe in Chhadarpur and Kirke had sent Scot and Townsend back to Nowgong to reconnoitre. At this, Langdale, thinking of a small sum of money he had hidden in his house, asked the Raja for an escort and with a few matchlock men, returned to Nowgong to retrieve 18 rupees. He then went back to Lugasi but this time accompanied by Captain Scot and Lieutenant Townsend – a fact Scot neglects to mention in his own account.
He then proceeded with them to Mahoba.
Three days later they left Mahoba to go to Killanjur. Their first march took them to the village of Jorai where, the next day, they would be attacked by the matchlock men who killed Lieutenant Townsend. Interestingly enough, Langdale claims the officers did not offer the money (the 700 upfront and 300 after for safe passage) but the demand came from the leader of the matchlock men.
The attack left the fugitives with the only option left to them – follow the remaining sepoys to Kubrai.
Along the way, Mrs. Langdale died of sunstroke. She had been in much pain and gradually sank under the fatigue of the walk. He had to leave her where she lay, there was no time to bury her. After he left his wife, Langdale found Mr. Smalley sitting under a small bush cradling his dying wife in his arms. After she died, she too was left where she lay and Mr. Smalley rejoined the party. The Sergeant-Major who had demanded his daughter carry his sword expired shortly after.
After a march of 30 miles they reached Kubrai, the story of which we have heard from three sources now and does not need to be related again. However it differs in one respect – Mr. Langdale chose to remain behind when the party left.
The party with Mr. Langdale consisted of Mr. Patrick Johnson pension bugler of the 12th suffering from a rupture, Sergeant Raint of the artillery and Mrs. Tiernney and 2 children. None of them were able to walk any further – Johnson certainly not and the others were suffering from blistered feet, particularly Langdale as he had proceeded barefoot having given his shoes to his wife not long before she died.
It is interesting to note that although sepoys were convinced they would be murdered in Kabrai, Langdale and the others were well treated, perhaps not with much consideration but they stayed for 12 days only ejected after the arrival of some sepoys and a gun, sent by the Raja of Jalown, a force sent to protect the town.
With but little choice than to move on, Langdale steered the fugitives towards Mitown on the way to Banda, reaching the village in the evening. Here they were treated with exceptional compassion. The villagers escorted them in, and provided them with food and charpoys to sleep on. The zamindars, upon being asked by Langdale if they could put up for a few days, the answer was they could stay as long they liked.
The zamindars provided them with a new suit of clothes and a blanket, the very grain merchants supplied them with grain and flour in turns, while the people gave them tobacco in abundance. In all, Langdale and the others remained in Mitown for a month.
On the 12th of August, after much correspondence with Major Ellis, the Political Assistant of Bundelkhand and Captain Scot they were transported under a guard of 50 men to Nagode.
They arrived at Gowrechur, some 15 miles on the road, where they were pressed into staying with Raj Dur, the Jagheerdar of that place. His invitation was so cordial that it was impossible to refuse and subsequently, they remained under his protection for a further 17 days during which time Raj Dur sent to Banda for tailors to make his guests some clothes and he sent for plates, tumblers and basins for their own use. Unfortunately, Raj Dur had but recently quarrelled with the Banda Nawab and his crony, Dawa Sahib, the Kamdar of the Rani of Ajehghar, so subsequently the messenger only returned to Gowrechur with some shoes, all too big to fit anyone in the party. However Raj Dur would not be defeated and he “munificently instructed his people to provide us with everything we desired, irrespective of any reference to him.”
The evening before they left, he paid them a parting visit.
“…on which occasion he induced our acceptance of fifty rupees for road expenses, a silver rummer weighing 26 rupees, and a silver basin weighing 24 rupees both of which we had in use. He also gave one of our party a rifle.” They left him on the 28th of August with many expressions of their gratitude, Mrs. Tiernney and the children safely ensconced in a palki and the men astride an elephant.
They reached Nagode on the 1st of September. Mr. Langdale did not stay long – after three days, he proceeded to Allahabad via Rewa where he faced a delay of 6 days as the mutineers under Koor Singh rampaged through the countryside.
We will end this narrative with a poignant appeal from Mr. G. Langdale, writer to Captain P.G. Scot, formerly of the 12th BNI.
“On the 12th, I left Rewa in an ekka, and arrived at Mirzapore on the 14th instant. At this place,a gentleman heard of my being at the Serai, and asked me over to his house, where I was very well treated, and provided with necessaries in the shape of clothes. A steamer conveyed me to Allahabad, where I trust to meet Captain Scot, my late employer, who has kindly offered to maintain me while out of employ. If I can join the volunteer cavalry at Allahabad, I will do so.
I have lost all my property besides a small box of jewellery belonging to my wife, which she managed to escape with from Nowgong, with my father’s Waterloo medal (he was a soldier in the 11th light dragoons), my two Cabool medals, Sutledge medal, and Punjaub medal (won in the 3d light dragoons), and my watch which property was taken away from us by the inhabitants of Jorai on the morning they fired upon us. My brother was riding master at Meerut, and I am very anxious to hear of his safety. I have written to him, but I suppose the dak route is closed. I shall be much obliged to any one who can give me information about him.”
Perhaps Captain Scot was wrong after all, the people he had left behind in Kabrai were not as insignificant as he thought but perhaps it was just this insignificance that saved their lives.
Annals of the Indian Rebellion – Noah Alfred Chick (1859)