Actions in the Punjab

ludhiana and Jalandhar, May-June 1857

Mr G.H.M. Ricketts is Occupied

In February 1857, Mr George Ricketts was called upon by G.C. Barnes, Commissioner and Superintendent of the Cis-Sutlej States to furnish a report regarding the events in Ludhiana District in the early part of the mutiny. He did so, in a methodical, clear and efficient manner, outlining what he did and how he did it – as reports go, it is rather dry but the life of Mr Ricketts in Ludhiana in 1857 was anything but – we will now follow the path of one civil servant from May until June 1857, the very busy Mr George Henry Mildmay Ricketts, aged 33.

The news from Meerut threw his district into some disarray, but undaunted, Ricketts immediately set about reinforcing Ludhiana.

On the 15th of May, he sent off letters to the Jind Raja requesting a troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry and to the principal sirdars, landowners and “men of influence” requesting them to honour their pact with the EICo and send for his disposal, 80 horsemen at once. He was not disappointed.
Mith Singh, the most influential of the Mullowdh Chiefs, came to Ludhiana personally to speak to Ricketts – he brought with him 50 horsemen and volunteered as many matchlock men as his estate could afford. He further offered the government, through Ricketts, a considerable sum of money as a loan.
From an estate on the Grand Trunk Road – Khiri which boarded on the Ambala district, Sirdar Busaunt Singh sent up 18 men, two of which were mounted on his own carriage horses – Ricketts kept the men but sent back the horses, realising the Sirdar would most likely need them himself; he then received 20 horsemen from the Budhour chiefs whose estates belonged to the Ferozepore jurisdiction – he sent most of them to that station where before long they would have work to do. Others, being pensioners and under no obligation to the EICo sent men, one, Bhas Sampuran Singh of Bagraen personally led his men to Ludhiana.
Only to his disappointment, the Jind Raja was unable to fulfil Rickett’s request. He and his men were otherwise engaged – the Jind Raja had already mobilised his men and he was marching to Thanesar. But the Nabha Raja was just as quick to answer and sent his available troops.

Raja Bharup Singh of Nabha had attained his majority in October 1856 – whatever misgivings there were about Nabha whose history with the EICo was difficult, the young man dispelled them. Told by Ricketts to hold himself in readiness for service, he was placed in charge of Ludhiana on the 17th of May. He occupied the station with 350 horses, 450 feet and 2 guns for the next six months. 300 men of Nabha escorted the Philour siege train when the Nasiri Gurkhas were having their tantrums in the hills. Under Sirdar Didar Singh the 300 would serve through the Siege of Delhi. The young Raja had been anxious to lead his men himself as the Jind Raja had done with his troops, but being very young, his requests were denied.


George Ricketts, just for the 15th of May furnished the following Memorandum of Orders and Letters:

15th of May 1857 “Wrote to Jheend Rajah for one troop, two companies. Wrote to Mith Singh, Ootum Singh, Bussunt Singh, Ludran Sirdars, Ahmad Khan of Raikote, and Wuzeer Khan, for 80 sowars amongst them.

Sent 20 rounds per man to Jugraon police; sent an escort for sowars’ arms to Ferozepoor and sent 45,000 rupees treasure to Phillour ; wrote to Barnes, reporting, &c. Ditto to Montgomery.

Warned Baboo at post-office to open all daks in my presence. Called in four men from each thannah and tehseel two from each 1st class, one from each 2nd class chowkie.

Detained 16 return treasure carts for transporting ammunition.

Laid supplies for Goorkahs

Sent out for 300 hackeries and 200 camels.

Unlike others, Ricketts was already convinced the mutiny was not a passing disturbance and he was making preparations for what he expected would be a long fight.

Besides men, what Ricketts needed was supplies and above all, suppliers.
For this, he had the Lulton Chaudharis. The six brothers, being old soldiers themselves, were “conversant with the numerous wants and requisitions of troops, were exceedingly useful in furnishing escorts, arranging supplies, carriage of all sorts, in arranging and loading convoys of magazine stores-..” Later, as reinforcements started leaving the Punjab on their way to Delhi, they would be expedient in moving the heavy ordnance across the river and superintending both the Phillour bridge-of-boats and the ferry when troops were crossing. The Nabha Raja, for his part, would enlist hundreds of troops and provide much-needed carriages and supplies. When money was wanted, he loaned the government the very princely sum of 2,5 lakh rupees.

The first objective had been, however, before men and supplies could move anywhere, was to secure the Grand Trunk Road. For this, George Carnac Barnes employed the Raja of Jind – first moving his troops to Karnal, accompanied by Captain McAndrew, the assistant commissioner at Ambala. The Patiala Raja, at Barnes’ request, sent a detachment of all arms and three guns under command of the Raja’s brother, to Thanesar situated between Karnal and Ambala. Meanwhile, the Nabha Raja and the Nawab of Maleir Kotla marched with their men to Ludhiana and the men of the Raja of Fureedkote were placed under the command of the Deputy Commissioner at Ferozepore. With all main points of the road thus secured, the collection of supplies and their transportation could be ensured. To provide a faster line of communication, Barnes established a telegraph office at Karnal.

The distance from Ferozepore to Karnal was a distance of 200 miles. Although not on this map, Karnal is situated nearly midway between Ambala and Delhi.

Then came the problem of securing the treasuries. At Ambala the treasury was under a guard of the 5th BNI, at Thansar it too was under a detachment of the same regiment. At Ludhiana, Ricketts had to contend with the men of the 3rd BNI recently ordered to his station from Philor while at Ferozepore it was all under the watchful eyes of the 57th BNI. The Gurkhas were on guard in the hills. It became imperative to collect it and place it in less tempted hands. The men of the 5th BNI escorted the Ambala treasure themselves to the quarter-guard of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers recently down from the hills, while Captain McNeile at Thensar sent his with some haste to Ambala as well. Ricketts, realising he did not have the manpower to send his any great distance, transported the treasury to Philor while at Ferozepore it remained in the station, but was moved to the fort and placed under a guard of the HM’s 61st Regiment.

Events in the first week of mutiny worked quickly. The energies of John Lawrence, fuming in Punjab at the lack of resourcefulness from pretty much everyone, provided the mainstay of the Delhi Field Force. By emptying the Punjab of as many troops as could be spared, within 5 days of the news of the Delhi massacres, three regiments of European Infantry (the 75th Foot, the 1st and 2nd Bengal European Fusiliers) one regiment of Dragoons – the 9th Lancers – and two troops of Horse Artillery with 6 pounder-guns were assembled in Ambala. The problem now was supplies. Some of the orders generated by the Commissary General and Superintending Surgeon were wishful rather than realistic; the Commissariat Department paralysed by the enormity of the task and deserted by the usual retinue of camp followers, while regular army suppliers were found to be holding themselves aloof, the burden of supplying the army suddenly fell to the men of the Civil Department, with Mr Ricketts, Mr Forsyth and Captain McNeile expected to come up with everything the army would need. They did so in record time – “the first detachment of the advancing army marched on the 17th and was followed by the last on the 23rd May.

None of this would have been possible without local cooperation as Barnes points out:

“The ammunition was conveyed by a party of the district police, and so, throughout the campaign, the most important military stores were constantly sent down under the charge of contingents furnished by the Chiefs of the Cis-Sutlej States; their troops protected our stations, and patrolled the Grand Trunk Road from Ferozepoor to Phillour down to the very walls of Delhi.
The safety of this Province may be attributed to their loyalty and good example. The Raja of Jheend, with Captain McAndrew and a small but well-disciplined force, acted as the vanguard of the army…and kept always in advance. When the first detachment of Europeans reached Kurnaul this little band proceeded 22 miles further to Paneeput, quieting the country, securing the road, and collecting supplies; and in this manner, they advanced boldly to within 20 miles of Delhi. A detachment of the Jheend troops seized the bridge at Bhagput, and thus enabled the Meerut force to join headquarters. A part of the Jheend sowars, with Captain Hodson at their head, rode into Meerut and opened our communication with at station. The troops of the Maharaja of Putteeala guarded Thanesar and Umballa, and the safety of Loodhiana was entrusted to the Raja of Nabha and the Kotla Nawab…”

This does not mean that the civil department was sitting idle.
Captain McNeile at Thanesar took to the field himself, while Mr Levien the Assistant Commissioner took up a post on the banks of the Jamuna River. Lieutenant Parsons the second Assistant Commissioner headed off to the westernmost portion of the district, patrolling the area towards Hansi. Mr Plowden from Ambala found himself deputed with 2 companies of the 5th BNI and a squadron of the 4th Lancers – an Indian regiment – to Jugadri on the road to Saharanpur to guard the bridge of boats. At Rupur 2 companies of the 5th, BNI under Captain Gardner (who had recently fled from Delhi) proceeded to that station with Gardner given the authority of a magistrate under the instructions of Barnes. Unfortunately for Gardner, the men of the 5th instead of keeping order were among the first to disrupt it, turning the butchers out of the town and “maltreating the town-crier” as he announced orders from the district officer. Barnes recalled them to Ambala but most of them deserted on the way back. Barnes ended up hanging 5 of them for sedition.
As we have seen previously at Saharanpur, in “Decisions” the biggest problem facing the district was less from sepoys with a mutinous bend than the local population. By mid-May, the neighbouring districts of Sirsa, Hansi, Hissar, Muzaffarnagar and Panipat were in chaos with the civil authorities either fleeing for their lives or dead. Outside Karnal, the magistrate of Panipat had no control left while at Saharanpur even with best efforts, the district was scarcely in anyone’s control .“Armed bands overran the country and set authority at defiance, everywhere was anarchy and confusion.” It became imperative then that the Cis-Sutlej states remain calm.

The ferries over the Jamuna were closed early in May and expanded to include every river in the Punjab and carried out by the 30th of May. The police forces were doubled and given orders to “attack and destroy any plundering band seen in the actual commission of a crime.” They were promised blanket exoneration if they actually killed anyone and rewards for “acts of prompt and retributive justice.” They were further instructed to break up any assembly of armed and suspicious persons, the order being to stamp out sedition, no matter what form it took. Every magistrate was given “full authority.. to act fearlessly as an emergency might dictate…” Although these measures did much to lessen the problems facing the region, there was by no means peace. The Jamuna River was impossible to patrol or control completely, while the Rangurs of Hissar and Panipat had thrown off every yoke of restraint and were continuing their reign of pillage and plunder. Nor was the situation improved by the comings and goings of the mutinous sepoys of the 45th and 57th BNI from Ferozepore. Everyone seemed to have their own ideas – close to Ambala an armed villager defied authority and took to plundering “at his leisure” while the villages in Thanesar headed by their chiefs turned out in broad daylight and raided weaker villages at will. Fights on a local level were so common the police were too cowed to report how bad things were. As such, Barnes ordered every “highway robber” hung and from the 5th of June in the Thansar and Ambala districts was placed “under summary law, declaring highway robbery and daring outrages of that stamp punishable with death.” Although this did have some effect in curbing the wanton criminality along the Grand Trunk Road it did not stop it. It is anyone’s guess how many lives were lost to rampaging bandits, blood feuds and murder.

Amid all the anarchy there was still an army before Delhi to supply.

It had been suggested early on to establish a bullock train which was to be “carried on by the district officers” but the idea proved defective in practice as it lacked the necessary supervision down the whole line. The idea was not wholly discarded and Captain Briggs was put in charge of a “military siege train” – his jurisdiction extended the full length of the road from Ferozpore to Delhi – 265 miles and consisted of a train of 30 waggons a day from each of the main stations – Ambala, Ludhiana and Karnal and a further 14 from Ferozepore, with the same number returning the same day. Briggs organised regular guards along the whole line – from Ferozepore to Ludhiana and Karnal the district police were in charge, while beyond Karnal the duty was given to the troops of the Cis-Sutlej Chiefs who had garrisoned Karnal, Panipat, Kasauli and Rhae. Once the siege train was fully operational on the 22nd of July, it would remain in use until mid-October.

In the middle of the preparations, unrest, strife and uncertainity, the troops at Jalandhar decided to have a mutiny of their own.

Jalandhar

The force at Jalandhar in May 1857 consisted of HM’s 8th Regiment of Foot, Major Henry Olphert’s Horse Artillery troop (the cousin of William Olpherts of the artillery, then in Benares), the 6th Cavalry and 2 Bengal regiments, the 36th and the 61st. They were both old regiments – the 36th was raised in 1799 as the 1st Battalion, 18th Regiment and had most recently done service in the 1st and 2nd Sikh Wars while the 61st had been raised in 1818 as the Benares Levy and had served in Afghanistan. The 36th had only recently arrived from Meerut while the 61st had only the year before been stationed at Lucknow in the company of the 19th and the 34th BNI who would win their notoriety in 1857 for events at Berhampore and Barrackpore.
The officer in command at Jalandhar was Brigadier Hartley. The cantonment at Jalandhar had been established in 1846 four miles west of the town proper. The cavalry lines were at the extreme right of the cantonments, followed by the artillery with the 36th completing the line; the European barracks, built at right angles formed the left flank, while the lines of the 61st were on the opposite side of the station. The cavalry lines and the artillery lines were separated by a broad road which cross the station terminating in the civil lines.

Sir John Lawrence, and indeed the more competent civil servants in the Punjab, understood how vital it was to keep mutiny out of the region. It formed the medium through which supplies and troops had to pass in order to reach Delhi. The forts at Phillor, Kangra, Nurpur and Bajwara were all considered strategically important, and they housed 2 sanitoriums vital for treating the wounded, in the hill stations of Dalhousie and Dharmsala. It further contained the transportation supply depot which could provide carriage to troops marching to Delhi. In his district report, Captain Farrington placed much emphasis on this point – in this anxious and already harassing time, he was the only civil officer in Jalandhar as Major Lake was out of the station.

On the 12th of May in a council called by Colonel Hartley (officiating due to the absence of Brigadier Johnstone), it was decided Phillour was to be secured without delay against the garrison of the 3rd BNI stationed there, and furthermore, an electric telegraph was to be established at that station. By 10 o’clock the same night, the telegraph was already working and at the same time, 150 men of HM’s 8th Foot relieved the men of the 3rd BNI in the fort. The two guns at Phillor were moved to Jalandhar and, together with the 2 already in Jalandhar, were placed under the guard of the 8th Queen’s Regiment. Hartley further order 2 post guns to be equipped and moved at short notice to any part of the district, when needed. Farrington, like Colonel Abbott at Hoshiarpur and Major Taylor at Kangra, took the precaution of putting public buildings in a defensive state with the tahsil at Jalandhar turned into a fort. The electric telegraph was then removed from the 61st lines and taken for safety to one of the artillery barracks.
The guns were so positioned to command the cavalry parade, while two more to sweep the lines of the 36th, with the rest remaining in position on their own grounds. This was much objected to by the sepoys who viewed the positioning of the guns as a question of their faithfulness – Olpherts however was not moved by their appeals and the guns stayed where he placed them, pointing out some of the guns actually pointed to the artillery barracks as well so their argument was, in his estimation, moot.

A party of mounted artillerymen, led by Major J. Brind who was given the position of permanent station field officer, took to patrolling Jalandhar at night and due to his indefatigable nature, visiting parts of the station during the day as well, while Olpherts and his subalterns slept at night by their guns, and during the day, there was one officer and at least half the men permanently present. Colonel Hartley and his staff slept in the artillery orderly room.

Farrington, in the first days after the Delhi outbreak, called in the men of the police battalion from the district to return to Jalandhar and then placed the treasure under European guards. Meanwhile, Major Lake continued to oppose disarming the troops – it was because he “imagined that it would compromise the Europeans at Hoshiarpur, Philor and Nurpur.” Basically, by not disarming at Jalandhar, Lake hoped it would show the troops in the other stations there was nothing to fear and they would remain loyal, by example.
Meanwhile, Farrington sent out messages appealing for assistance from the Raja of Kapurthala, Rabnir Singh who although away from his district on a pilgrimage was ably represented by his vakeel who responded to Farrington’s request by sending 500 men and 2 guns from Karputhala, allowing Farrington to thus protect the civil buildings, the cacherry, the jail and treasury, thus ensuring protection for the civil station.
The women and children were placed either in the Royal barracks or in the Artillery schoolroom and library, bringing them safely out of harm’s way. Meanwhile, Hartley, expecting the cavalry would rush the guns if they mutinied, ordered heaps of stones to be scattered about the broad road – a simple but adequate defence which would break a cavalry charge but leave the guns free to manoeuvre. As such, with all the preparations in place, it should have been clear to the sepoys how little they were trusted.
As for the Raja of Kapurthala, whose territory lay between Jalandhar and the Bas River, he was more than aware of the danger ahead. Upon returning from a pilgrimage to Hardiwar, he had made camp on the banks of the Sutlej when sepoys of the 3rd BNI, stationed at Philor started circulating in his ranks and attempted to turn his men At the same time, his vakeel arrived from Jalandhar with Farrington’s appeal for troops. The Raja wasted no time in breaking up his camp the same day and marching directly to Jalandhar. His vakeel had already given Farrington 2 guns and 500 men but the Raja now placed all the troops of his escort at Farrington’s disposal and “threw himself, heart and soul, into the work.” It would be due to his influence over his people that Jalandhar and the district would mostly remain quiet in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the days continued onwards with the usual signs of discontent. Fires broke out in the cantonments sporadically at first and then finally, becoming a regular occurrence. Hartley was urged to disarm the troops but he refused. Open acts of defiance had become commonplace but were dismissed even when seditious notices were found posted up in the Pay Office Treasury, openly threatening the native officers who had shown their loyalty to the Government, nothing was done. This was swiftly followed by writing done in charcoal on a wall in the lines, pointing to three men, known to be loyal to the Government as “bad men,” to be regarded “as devisers of evil counsel. “ On the opposite wall, the threat continued, stating that on the day “that the event will occur they shall not escape, mind this. He who erases this writing will share the same fate.”. On the night of the 4th of June, the hospital of the 61st BNI was burned to the ground

When a 6th Cavalry trooper taunted a comrade and an Indian officer of being Christians, the other native officers interceded on his behalf, “anxious to maintain the credit of their corps” and the brigadier conceded to allow the man to be tried by a regimental court-martial. It is a small wonder he was acquitted. Not long after one of the sepoys was found spreading false alarms among the men of the 61st. Meanwhile, merchants and tradesmen began deserting the Sadar Bazar, moving their property into the city – even they no longer trusted the sepoys.
Colonel Hartley made impassioned speeches to the men of the cavalry, the 36th and 61st, professing to “give them full credit for their staunchness, yet making them understand that he was ready for them at the first sign of mutiny. So long as they remained quiet, not a hair of their heads would be touched, was his promise, but the warning implied was death to the traitor.” For a time it seemed to work even if Hartley had to speak the men through an interpreter, but on the 16th of May, Brigadier Johnstone, having rushed down from Simla resumed command of Jalandhar. He wanted to disarm the sepoys without delay but Hartley convinced him it would have been to break the solemn word he had given the men. Convinced Hartley was right, Johnstone decided to “restore full confidence in the sepoys.” He removed the treasure from the European guards and insisted it be placed in “equal proportions” under the care of the 2 Indian regiments instead. When the treasure was returned to the men, they insisted the bags be opened and the money counted in their presence so they could ascertain for themselves it had been returned in full. When Sir John Lawrence heard of Johnstone’s decision he brought it before General Reed who immediately countermanded the order, but by the time the telegraphic message reached Jalandhar from Rawal Pindi, it was too late. The order, on the suggestion of the Jalandhar civilians, was cancelled and the treasure remained with the main guard. Unbeknownst to them, Farrington took care the treasure should grow “small by degrees and beautifully less” with every payment drawn now from the regiments’ treasuries. He forwarded the remittances from several districts directly to Phillor and then by paying away all “claims on Government alternately from the treasure chest in the custody of each regiment, this confidence in the guards did not cause the loss of more than Rs 5000.-.

Meanwhile, Major Lake, the Commissioner of the Trans-Sutlej States for the Jalandhar Division had returned to his post. He had organised the safety of Kangra and Hashirapur – and now, seeing the state of things in Jalandhar, changed his tune and insisted the regiments be disarmed. He had men enough to carry it out – one troop of European artillery with a troop of Indian horse artillery had just arrived from Hashirapur; Rothney’s Sikhs (4th Sikhs) were just passing through the station and small body of the 2nd Punjab Calvary under Lieutenant Charles Nicholson (brother of John Nicholson) were on their way from Lahore. Lake kept Rothney’s Sikhs in the station to assist with the disarming and the date was set – Saturday, the 6th of June. Unfortunately, Brigadier Johnstone had a change of heart and Rothney with his Sikhs continued their march to Delhi.
It was decided to disarm the troops the next day – on the 7th – but now Major Lake changed his mind, thinking that “so unusual a parade” might arouse suspicion and it was once again called off. Whether someone had told the sepoys of the indecision of their officers or if they finally decided to push the events forward themselves, at 10 o’clock that night Colonel Hartley’s bungalow burst into flames followed by a report of musket shot which broke the stillness of the night – the sepoys at Jalandhar were finally up.

The Cantonment at Jalandar

From here the events are pieced together from conflicting reports. What can be ascertained for sure, is at the first sound of musket fire, a general call to arms was sounded, the officers hastened to their respective parades while the ladies and their children – those who had been imprudent enough to return to their bungalows, flocked to their assigned barracks while HM’s 8th turned out. 200 of them were brought, commanded by Colonel Longfield to the artillery lines. Olpherts and his men were standing at the ready – everyone was where they should be anticipating the crisis which was now upon them.

Now began the general confusion. As in Meerut, the cavalry headed the mutiny. Some of them passed down the back of the parade ground of the 36th BNI, and firing their carbines and pistols, rushed into the lines of the 36th, declaring the Europeans had turned on them. This ruse had been used before but to complete it, the mutineers used a new trick – sepoys dressed in white undress uniforms had been sent out as skirmishers across the parade from the direction of the European lines – in the dark, it would have been impossible to differentiate them from the Europeans whose summer uniforms were white drill.
They then galloped, as predicted, towards the artillery approaching Captain Smyth’s native troops on the far right entreating the gunners to join them and turn their guns on their officers. “This appeal was promptly responded to by a volley of grape, followed rapidly by two or three rounds more, which brought down some of the leading mutineers and a couple of horses, besides wounding a considerable number, and sent the rest in quick retreat.”
Simultaneously, a small body of cavalry and a larger number of infantry came up front near the guns and they opened fire on the artillery. At this point, however, Brigadier Johnstone stepped in and forbade the artillery to return fire “lest any should really be staunch…” At the same time, a party of troopers moved swiftly through the civil lines and the town calling out to the Karputhala Raja’s men, who were on guard there, to join them – to their dismay, the Raja’s men opened fire, and the troopers beat a hasty retreat back to the cantonments.

As for the regimental officers, they had gathered on the cavalry parade ground. Major Macmullen, known to be respected by his men, was now trying his best to restrain them, even physically as the case may be. “Seeing a trooper in the act of mounting, tried to pull him off, when the wretch drew his pistol and fired, and the ball wounded Major Macmullen’s left hand.” With no words left to oppose them and utterly ignored by his men, Macmullen fell back on the quarter guard. Finding several troopers standing quietly aside, he ordered a roll call and at least for the night, these men remained with their officer.
On the parade ground of the 36th, the adjutant, 30-year-old Lieutenant Frederick John Salmon Bagshaw, was fairing as badly as Macmullen had with his men. Bagshaw “rallied about one hundred men of the regiment around him and was apparently bringing them to reason when a trooper rode up and shot him.” Bagshaw lingered on for a few days before dying of his wounds – a veteran of Aliwal and Chilianwallah brought down by a sowar of the 6th Cavalry. Ensign Bates, standing nearby was wounded severely by a sword, though blunt, which still disabled his right arm for months to come.
In the lines of the 61st, things were different – the sepoys stood together in small groups. some cursing their officers, others in quiet anticipation of what would happen next. Into their midst came Major J.C. Innes followed by the other officers, calling on his men to remain staunch. He might have succeeded since his men, though loud were still wavering when a body of the 36th headed by some men of the 6th moved towards the lines of the 61st. A havildar and some 40 sepoys saw them before Innes did – perceiving the danger, they quickly bundled the officers off the parade ground to the quarter-guard. They quickly threw sheets over the officers and made them sit on the ground, while they shielded them bodily from the view of the approaching mutineers. Within moments the door of the quarter guard opened and men of all three regiments entered, intending to break open the treasure chests which were very close to the concealed officers. Seeing their discovery was inevitable, an old havildar, just pensioned, called out to the mutineers in an angry voice. He was laying a charpoy in the quarter guard and as everyone knew, he had been recently invalided for rheumatic pains – shouting at the men they were disturbing his rest and he would curse the lot of them if they didn’t cease their infernal racket at once, the mutineers, astonished and perhaps a little ashamed, quickly backed out of the quarter guard, dragging the treasure chest with them.
With no time to lose, the door was bolted shut by the remaining faithful sepoys. They lifted their officers up through a trap door which led to the roof of the building and then told the officers to lay down out of sight behind the parapet. The sepoys closed the trap door, and the ones who had joined the officers on the roof resolutely sat down on it to make it impossible to open from below. The mutineers had lost interest in hunting for the officers if that had ever been their intention – instead, they fell upon treasure and commenced squabbling over the contents of the chest, filling their pockets with money. Innes and the other officers remained for the rest of the night on the roof.
It is perhaps a testament to Major Innes more than anything else that at least some of his men stayed true. He had served 29 years with the 61st, his whole career from ensign to commandant had been spent with his men – he had never requested a transfer or looked for employment in an irregular unit nor had spent more than a day away from his regiment. All the men who saved his life had grown in the 61st with him – as much he trusted them, they in turn believed in him. For their fidelity, Innes ensured they all received promotions while the invalided havildar for whom there was no rank left to give, was presented with 150 rupees and the other havildar, who had taken Innes off the parade ground, received 200.
Unfortunately, not all the officers were shown the same consideration as Innes – three were wounded, Captain Basden, Ensigns Hawkins and Durnford – Hawkins subsequently died of fever.

Meanwhile, in the civil lines, another drama was playing out, which could have had fatal consequences had there been a little less luck going around. A Mrs Fagan, the wife of Captain Fagan of the Engineers, and his sister, had from the first absolutely refused to sleep in the barracks. “She had not for a single night left her own house, though it was so isolated from and remote from the barracks; nor on this eventful night of the outbreak would she leave it.”
The engineers had their own treasure chest and this was kept in the compound of Fagan’s bungalow guarded by a few sepoys. When the first rattle of musketry broke the night’s peace, Mrs Fagan brashly marched up to the havildar of the guards and told him there were only women and children in the house – their lives, she said were on his honour, in his hands. After a moment’s thought the havildar told Mrs Fagan to return to the bungalow and put out all the lights and told her “do not suffer a single person to enter the house, and I will answer for your safety with my life!” He was unable to save the engineer’s treasure but in the morning he was found still standing guard and Mrs Fagan and her family were safely given over to a European patrol sent out to look for them. In similar circumstances, the wife of Lieutenant Bagshaw owed her life to the loyalty of the sepoys, she too was unharmed.
The work of mutiny in Jalandhar, unlike Meerut, lasted no more than an hour and a half, during which the mutineers, after ridding themselves of their officers, left the station – all this in sight of 2 well-armed contingents of European troops and a ready to fire artillery. Johnstone held them back – he refused to allow them to engage with the mutineers and by 3 o’clock in the morning when they were well on their way to Philor, only then Johnstone resolved on pursuit.

In the next post, we shall see what the Brigadier did next and what the consequences of his actions meant for Mr. George Henry Mildmay Ricketts in Ludhiana.






Sources:
The Crisis in the Punjab (1858) – Frederic Cooper Esq., C.S.
Mutiny Reports including the Punjab Mutiny Report – Punjab Government Press, 1911
Annals of the Indian Rebellion (1859) – Noah Alfred Chick
The History of the Indian Revolt (1859) – George Dodd
The Punjab and Delhi in 1857, Vol I (1861)- Rev. J. Cave-Browne
A History of the Sepoy War in India Vol II (1870)- John William Kaye F.R.S.
Gazetteer of the Jalandhar District 1883- 1884 – Compiled and published on authority of the Punjab Government