We left Lieutenant Bonham and three sergeants roaming the countryside outside Secrora, unsure where to go. Captain Boileau, Lieutenant Hale and Doctor Kendall were following in the footsteps of Mr. Wingfield, who in his own intrepid way made all haste towards Gonda. At Bharaich, where Wingfield was supposed to be, another tragedy acted itself out which would have immediate consequences, not just for Bonham but for Captain Hearsey, whom we last met in Sitapur.
The district of Bahraich formed part of the Fyzabad division of Oudh, and like Gonda, is one of the trans-Ghagra frontier districts, sharing a border with Nepal for some 80 miles. Before the annexation of Oudh, the district had been ravaged not by disease or blights, but by its very own rulers, a particularly querulous lot, who had over decades managed to destroy the very fabric of Bahraich district with their constant war-mongering, plundering and rapine. As a consequence revenue fell until nearly everything collected came from Gonda alone.
Things came to a head under Raghubir Dayal in 1846 who managed not only to continue the destruction of the district but depopulate it as well. Captain Orr, who travelled through the district in 1849 wrote,
“The once-flourishing districts of Gonda and Bahraich, so noted for fertility and beauty, are now for the most part -uncultivated; villages completely deserted in the midst of lands devoid of all tillage everywhere meet the eye; and from Fyzabad to Bahraich I passed through these districts a distance of 80 miles, over plains which had been fertile and well cultivated, till Raghubar Singh got charge, but now lay entirely waste, a scene for two years of great misery ending in desolation. Bahraich now offered but little spoil to tempt the revenue officials to any further devastation, but as Gauri Shankar, the main agent of Raghubir Dayal, remained in the district as tahsildar under Inchha Singh and Man Singh, the uncle and brother, respectively, of the tyrant, it could hardly be expected that the land should have much rest.“
With the annexation of Oudh issued on the 7th of February 1856, the idea was to bring some relief to this beleaguered district. Sent to tidy things up was Mr. Charles Wingfield as Commissioner, Captain Bunbury as Deputy Commissioner (he would shortly be replaced by Mr. Reid). Mr. Cunliffe of the Civil Service and Mr. Jordan completed the staff. With Bahraich as the division headquarters, they set to work.
Over the next 14 months, they formed and organised police and tahsildari establishments, put together various courts of justice, instituted and supervised the jails, investigated claims of revenue-free grants, excise and at the forefront, the settlement of land revenues. Although their efforts might have brought some succour to the people of Bahraich, it certainly was not designed to make peace with the landholders. The Raja of Baundi felt indignant, “at having been excluded from a large number of villages on account of recusancy in paying the revenue demand..” while the taluqdar of Chahlari had gripes of his own and at first opportunity threw in his lot with the mutineers as did those of Dhaurahra and Bithauli.
Mr. Wingfield as Commissioner of Bahraich was by no means extreme – ” A man of ability, of culture, and of large views, he had not sympathised with the sweeping change of system which had inaugurated the transfer of Oudh from its Muhammadan king to British rule. He had ever been in favour of dealing gently with the territorial aristocracy. A system, roughly, even rudely introduced, which scarcely veiled its animating principle of raising the peasantry and small proprietors to a position which would enable them ultimately to oust the great landowners, was not in accordance with his ideas. He had done, then, all that lay in his power to make the transfer easy, to smooth down the rough edges, to mitigate the worst effects of the process.” Supporting his views was Sir Henry Lawrence.
Nor was Wingfield partisan to the idea of “a passing and groundless panic” as flouted by Mr. Cecil Beadon far away in Calcutta, when mutiny reared its ugly head. In his defence, it can be said he took the reports from Berhampur and Barrackpore very seriously; and as such understood that the dissatisfaction of the sepoys with the government would eventually, given a little time, trickle down into Oudh, where their grievances were far weightier. In Oudh it went past pay, promotion and lastly, cartridges. Here, their entire existence had been done away with in one fell swoop. Their lands were no longer their own, their king was gone and in his place was a strange, foreign entity they could neither support nor understand. For Wingfield, mutiny was not an if, but a when.
As such he had no faith at all in the Oudh Irregulars, much less those based in Secrora. As such, he ” endeavoured to enlist on the side of the British the members of that territorial aristocracy whom the annexation of Oudh had done so much to injure. Chief among these was Digbijai Singh, Rajah of Balrampur, a town in the north-east corner of his division, and close to the Nepal frontier. Rajah Digbijai Singh was a man of character and sense. He entertained towards Mr. Wingfield friendly—even grateful—feelings. He had not been inoculated with the poison that pervaded the atmosphere. He received, then, Mr. Wingfield’s advances with courtesy; he responded to them, and even engaged to afford refuge, in case of necessity, to him and to the officers serving in his division.”
Mr. Wingfield’s first stop after leaving his bemused guests sitting in his house in Secrora, was Gonda.
Situated 28 miles north-north-west of Fyzabad and within 50 miles of a low range of hills, Gonda was not a remarkable station, though like in Secrora, the climate was acceptable and the hunting admirable. Although made the headquarters of the district, it was not a particularly important town, having no industrial centre as such; it did boast of a thriving market town but development had been slow. Nor was there a large military presence; the 3rd Oudh Irregulars had been settled in Gonda, and like at Secrora, the officers and their families along with the civilians were busy setting up their new station. Captain Miles commanded the regiment with his adjutant, Lieutenant Campbell and the regimental surgeon, Robert Bartrum. Mr. C.B. Owen had over all charge of the district as Assistant Commissioner along with Lieutenant E. Clarke. After the murder of Charles Boileau, George Henry Lawrence, the nephew of Sir Henry, had taken his place.
One of the largest districts in the north of Oudh, Gonda had suffered slightly less than Bahraich had under the abusive rule of the various landowners but at the time of the annexation, there were hardly any useable roads in the district, and one of the first duties of the new British administration was to build a serviceable highway of sorts between Gonda, Fayzabad, Secrora and to Byram Ghat. It would not be until 1904 that the district could boast of 600 miles of actual road of which only 105 were metalled. With a multitude of river crossings, ferries were of the essence and these too were maintained by the new administration.
The killing of Fazal Ali spelt an end to some of the lawlessness in Oudh; unfortunately, this only fuelled other problems. The British had meddled far into the traditions of the province and were fast replacing the known law with principles the population was not able to grasp. The annexation had led to a decline of the ruling classes and from the start, the rising prices of grain and unemployment were the new scourge the British had brought with them. Patronage, given freely in the past by the ruling class to mosques, madrassas and other religious institutions was fast drying up and the EICo did not see any reason to upkeep the expenses. As a result anyone who had been employed by these institutions suddenly found themselves without work and were forced to seek jobs outside of Oudh. It goes without saying that the very court of the Nawab of Oudh was without work – from tailors to courtiers to cleaners, their livelihoods had disappeared. The annexation had brought about a widespread disruption in the social fabric of the entire province. Although lawlessness was one of the reasons cited for annexing Oudh, it was little understood by the EICo that the very dacoits they were so keen on punishing had been men who had received favours and patronage from the nawabs of Oudh themselves, keeping them in line by a series of obligations which prevented them from taking up dacoity on such a rampant scale. The only comparison would be freebooters who did duty for the crown. It should not have been a strange law to the EICo, but they refused to upkeep the old ways, introducing instead a complicated system of courts, judges, jails, pardons and petitions. Though introduced to bring a purportedly civilising law, one of the side effects was a direct attack on the culture of a province steeped in it. In 1857 the revolt in Oudh had less in common with a military uprising and took on the flavour of a fight for an old way of life that was slowly dying away.
Mr. Wingfield and Gonda
When the news of the mutiny in Meerut and Delhi was received in Gonda, the administration continued functioning normally for a time, with the troops, as elsewhere, professing their loyalty. It was the news from Secrora that set that particular wheel in motion.
Like a stormy petrel, Mr. Wingfield rode into Gonda bringing tidings from Secrora. He had been watching events unfold for some months in Gonda; a gradual decrease in the number of petitioners in the courts had become noticeable and zamindars who had recovered their villages from the talukdars through the land settlement were writing to propitiate the latter or were otherwise making arrangements to flee. The tehsildars had also reported that the sepoys had been overheard expressing their determination to not allow the treasure at Gonda to be sent to Lucknow. Although an appeal was made to remove the seditious sepoys, nothing was done. Their officers had implicit faith in their men.
Shortly after arriving, Mr. Wingfield suffered Captain Miles to introduce him to his native officers. In his reading of events, Mr. Wingfield could not believe their loyalty was anything more than a show: how could they withstand the force of example from their fellow sepoys in Secrora, and as ex-soldiers of the King of Oudh, Mr. Wingfield’s expectations of them were considerably low.
Upon meeting the men, who with the usual professions of loyalty strove to make a good impression on the rather disgruntled Wingfield, he decided to put them to a test. Telling them himself of the mutiny at Secrora, he said that the “best proof of their loyalty would be to take the treasure and march with us to Bulrampore or beyond the Raptee (a river in the district), for it was impossible they could oppose the Secrora mutineers; who equally strong on infantry, had a horse field battery and a hundred and fifty cavalry besides; at first they agreed to this plan with seeming alacrity, but soon began to raise objections.”
Having objected to the plan of going to Balrampur on some frivolous pretext, the native officers had assured Mr. Wingfield they would stay and fight the mutineers instead – pointing out that this was hardly practicable, they countered his dismissal, saying the 3rd would march into Lucknow with the treasure and their officers. Captain Miles then gave orders to procure carriages for the transport of the treasure. This was done without hesitation and by the next morning, most of these were in the lines ready to start.
Mr. Wingfield remained the night in Gonda. In the morning he was greeted by the hasty arrival of Lieutenant Hale and Doctor Kendall from Secrora with the disheartening information that Captain Boileau’s regiment was in open mutiny and they had been forced to flee for their lives. This was a slight exaggeration on their part. Like Boileau, they had given up on their regiment and had left Secrora unmolested leaving Bonham and three sergeants holding the station. At least this much they did say – Bonham’s battery was still standing firm.
Not that that was of any use. In the course of the morning, Mr. Wingfield received confirmation from Lieutenant Bonham that the Secrora troops had indeed mutinied and they meant to march on Gonda and force the 3rd Irregulars to join them. However, his battery was still holding. By evening however Lieutenant Bonham sent another note: written hurriedly on a scrap of paper in pencil, he stated he had been driven out of his battery and was making his way as best he could, to Lucknow.
Several letters had been intercepted, a regular correspondence between the troops in Secrora and Gonda – in one of these, the Gonda troops were bid to bring their treasure to Secrora. With this in mind, Captain Mills assembled his native officers and ordered them to prepare to march to Balrampur. This time they demurred and made excuses, finally finishing the discussion most coolly – they would go to their lines, they said, to reflect upon the matter and would give their commander an answer in a few hours.
Ever sceptical, Mr. Wingfield was not having any of it. For him, the 3rd Oudh Irregulars were ripe for mutiny; it was only a matter of time. Shortly after receiving Bonham’s hurried note, Wingfield received one next from Lieutenant Longueville Clarke at Bahraich – his detachment of the 3rd Irregulars had risen and he was forced to flee. As if this was not enough news for one day, he then found out the mutiny at Fyzabad had been absolute – the officers and civilians had left and were making their way as best they could, downriver. “I felt satisfied that to stay any longer was to court destruction unprofitably; and therefore gave the civil officers permission to leave, and about 10pm in company with Mr. Owen, Assistant Commissioner and two officers of the 2nd Oudh Irregular Infantry set out on horseback to Bulrampore.” Captain Mills and his adjutant chose to remain with their men as did Lieutenant Clarke.
The few hours the native officers had requested expired and they returned to Captain Mills. They had nothing new to say, only the same excuses and even added a few fresh ones, but their determination was the same: they would not go to Balrampur. Captain Miles explained their “excuses were absurd and as there was but one road open, and that was the one to Belrampore. He argued with them and tried the bring them to a sense of their duty warning them their conduct was becoming sensibly mutinous.” Seeing his arguments were useless, the captain dismissed the men to their lines. As a precaution, he sent a strong piquet to patrol the road between Gonda and Secrora to report of any mutineers approaching the station. He then advised the remaining officers to all sleep in the same house, in case of an outbreak at night, they would at least all be ready together.
June 10th and 11th
The men spent the night at Adjutant Campbell’s house which was closest to the lines and the treasury. Staying half-dressed, they had their beds brought out on the verandah. Their horses waited, saddled, in case they needed to run for it in the middle of the night.
There was not much rest to be had.
During the night more than once sepoys passed close to their beds with shouldered muskets on the pretext of checking the officers were still there; the picquet returned early and when they came near the house “the men tossed about their muskets and went into the lines in a most disorderly manner, laughing and talking boisterously.”
At daybreak the regimental havildar major came to Captain Miles with a letter he had received during the night from the Secrora mutineers – the men of the 3rd were urged to seize not just the treasury but their officers as well. “This determined Captain Miles to make one more effort to bring his native officers to reason, whereupon he summoned them once more, and again ordered them to march to Belrampore, telling them if they would not obey him he would leave them. They flatly refused to go Belrampore and indeed anywhere. Captain Miles then sent for his two Sergeants and when they had joined us, we all mounted our horses and left the station, at a walking pace, making for Belrampore, which we reached the same evening.”
After the officers left Gonda the men of the 3rd Irregulars plundered and destroyed the civil station and then marched off to Lucknow. The district relapsed to a state of anarchy – the talukdars who had been devoting the time to strengthening their positions now used their forces to attack their neighbours. Raja Debi Singh of Gonda appointed himself the leader of the rebellion in the district and his first business was to destroy the forts of anyone who opposed him. Another Raja Krishna Datt Ram fled to Lucknow; Raja Debi Singh soon joined him with a thousand men to join the growing rebel army. The Rani of Tulsipur, whose husband was a prisoner in Lucknow, wasted little time in fortifying her own position and in sending a further force to assist in the rebellion at Lucknow. Another Raja, Rissat Ali Khan took the opportunity afforded to him by this breakdown of order to renew his old feuds with his cousins and add to the general lawlessness that now seeped into Gonda.
At Bahraich, the divisional headquarters -where Mr. Wingfield was meant to be instead of Secrora – were cantoned 2 companies of the 3rd Oudh Irregulars, commanded by Lieutenant Joseph Longueville Clarke. The Deputy Commissioner was Mr. Charles Watkin Cunliffe, assisted by Mr. Jordan.
As already intimated, Captain Longueville Clarke had written to Mr. Wingfield – the message reached him in Gonda – the detachment of 3rd Irregulars had mutinied at Bahreich and there remained nothing for it but to flee.
The initial idea of the three men – Longueville Clarke, Cunliffe and Jordan was to make for Nanpara, a government-run estate on the Indo-Nepal border.
The great estate of Nanpara occupied a large portion of the north of the Bahreich district, At the time of annexation, it was held by a minor, Raja Jang Bahadur Khan. The title was hereditary, having been conferred on his ancestor in 1763 by the Nawab of Oudh, Shuja-ud-daulah and subsequently recognised by the British. His father, Munawar Ali Khan had been able ruler but his marriage had been less successful. In 1847 he had married one of the fashionable ladies of the Lucknow court – an action which spelt disaster for Nanpara.
His untimely death from the accidental discharge of his gun while out on a shooting trip left his very young son with a title he could not fulfill. The elder Rani – the boy’s grandmother – succeeded in the management of Nanpara in the infant’s name. This state of affairs was peaceful but briefly. After 2 years, the boy’s mother contrived to gain support of the Queen-mother in Lucknow and for the next 5 years an unceasing battle ensued between the partisans of the two women, each haggling for power. The disastrous state of affairs reached the ears of the Resident in Oudh and probably served as one of the instances of misrule the EICo used to justify annexation. Between them, they had managed to reduce one of the richest areas in Oudh to a state which yielded no revenue at all – everything was being used to support the troops of the quarrelling queens; villages were deserted and in ruins and agriculture had drawn to a standstill. Upon annexation, the rights of the young king were upheld and the Lucknow court was forced to retire into seclusion.
To prevent any further mismanagement, the new government had deposed the old agent of the estate – a kinsman of the young raja – for a man who was appointed by the government and answerable to them, to bring some stability back to the Nanpara Estate. However, they did not deal with the old agent in any summary fashion – in 1857, with troubles brewing in the district, he reappeared. Murdering the government official, he forcibly reinstated himself as Agent of Nanpara.
Woefully unaware of the recent change of management in Nanpara, Cunliffe, Clarke and Jordan would have been horrified to find their journey to this remote corner of Oudh had been for naught; the agent turned them away, refusing them any assistance at all. Remonstrance proved useless and the three men were forced to retrace their steps back to Bahreich with the intention of making for Balrampur and then on to Lucknow.
They returned to Bahreich and started for the Gahghra River. Unfortunately, they chose the chief crossing at Byram Ghat.
A few days previously, Captain Boileau had ordered a detachment of his men to guard Byram Ghat against any possibilities of mutineers attacking Secrora – however, the situation had changed dramatically in the course of the week. The detachment of the 2nd Oudh Irregulars had thrown off any vestiges of loyalty and their position at Byram Ghat gave them control of the ferry, thus cutting off a means of escape for any Europeans in the district.
The three men arrived at the Byram Ghat disguised as natives. Initially, they did not attract any attention and managed to embark on the ferry boat with their horses. As they were leaving the shore, a cry went up, possibly from the native extra Assistant Commissioner who had accompanied them from Bahreitch, – the Europeans were escaping. The sepoys lost no time. Crowding into other boats, they pursued the three men, keeping up a heavy firing of musketry. As soon as the first shot was fired, the boatmen on the fugitive’s vessel jumped into the river and swam for the shore. Cunliffe, Clarke and Jordan were forced by the firing from the sepoys to crouch down in the boat and in this position were for a time able to return fire with their revolvers. But there was no one to steer the boat. Left to itself, the boat was taken by the current back to the same bank it had started from.
Cunliffe and Clarke were immediately murdered by the mutineers. Mr. Jordan was reserved for the orders of the native officers at Secrora.
Orders were sent back without hesitation – the next morning, Mr. Jordan was taken back down to the riverbank and shot. As there were no survivors of this little massacre, Mr. Gubbins had to piece together the information as given to him by several native witnesses following the mutiny who had volunteered the information to him as they had seen the events. The bodies of the three men were never recovered and had probably been thrown into the river.
Charles Watkin Cunliffe, just 24 years old, had been engaged to one of the Ommanney girls, then in Lucknow – the poor girl refused to believe her paladin was dead and steadfastly believed throughout the siege he was coming to save her. Her other sister, engaged to Cunliffe’s brother, Foster John, would have but a few months with her beau. He would die during the siege of Lucknow – his grave would be dug in the rain by Ruutz Rees for, in the same grave, Rees buried his friend, Mr. Deprat.
For Ruutz-Rees the death of 28-year-old Longueville-Clarke was distressing, to say the least. His sister was married to Clarke’s brother, Charles Myers and was, besides the familial connection, a close personal friend. Rees believed Clarke’s death was in part due to the killing of the dacoit Fazal Ali, in whose death he had been instrumental. Longueville-Clarke had deprived the insurgents of a chief of indomitable courage, skill and perseverance; it was unlikely that deed had gone unnoticed by the officers at Secrora.
Before leaving Bahraich for Nanpura, Longueville-Clarke had entrusted his sword and pistols to an old personal servant, with the request to forward them, should he be killed, to a friend who should then convey them to his father, a well-known barrister in Calcutta.
His father eventually received the sad relics of his promising son. Harrow School put up the following memorial for the young man.
Lieutenant Joseph Cudbert Longueville Clarke – 67th Bengal Native Infantry – murdered by mutineers at Bhyram Ghaut – 13th June 1857. Aged 28. Assistant-Commissary in Oude, serving with the 3rd Oude Irregulars.
Memorial at Harrow School – “Sacred to the memory of Joseph C. Longueville Clarke Lieut in the 67th Bengal Native Infantry & 2nd in Command of the 3rd Oude Infantry who was murdered by the mutineers during the Indian Revolt of 1857 at the age of 28 yrs.
Do Not Go To Byram Ghat
On the 4th of June, Captain John Bennett Hearsey, when the mutiny burst over the station of Sitapur, the captain had been saved by the men of his military police detachment. They had forcibly carried him away from his house and detained him under a tree for some hours along with Sergeant-Major Rogers, his wife and son. Twenty-five men stood sentry over the little group until early afternoon when they were permitted to go to an officer’s house. Shortly after, Miss Georgina Jackson and Mrs. Greene were brought to Hearsey, the ladies having hidden under some bushes on the side of the river. Towards evening, Hearsey was permitted to leave Sitapur with this small group of Sitapur, some of the only survivors of the frightful massacre.
During the next few days the party grew considerably – to eleven – including now Mr. Gonne and Mr. Brown from Mullapore, Captain Hastings and Mr. Brand and Mr. Carew of Shajehanpore. While sheltering at the village of the Rampore Thakur Gooman Singh Hearsey heard the distressing news of the murders at Byram Ghat. They had originally intended to proceed onwards by boat – but this was now impossible as the mutineers controlled both sides of the river.
Unable to proceed to Lucknow, they retraced their steps back to Mutteeara, where after 2 months of hiding, they were sold by the Rani to the mutineers. Forced to flee, the party was pursued through the countryside by the Rani’s men. Arriving at a river, swollen now by the monsoon rains, they were unable to cross and in an ensuing skirmish with their pursuers, the party took different directions – the ladies and Mr. Carew pushing onwards on an elephant, Mr. Gonne riding off, Captains Hastings and Hearsey, Messrs Brand, Brown and Sergeant-Major Rogers taking their chances swimming across the river – unfortunately, Mr. Brown was eaten by an alligator. The next day, Mr. Gonne found them and the party proceeded onwards to the Nepal hills. They never saw Mr. Carew, Miss Jackson, Mrs. Greene, Mrs. Rogers or her son again – they were taken prisoner to Lucknow and basely murdered.
Although safe under the protection of Raja Koolraj Singh, the jungles in the hills were anything but healthy and first Mr. Gonne,12 days after arriving and then Captain Hastings in December 1857, died of the effects of fever. With the Rani of Tulsipur demanding their heads even at so late a time in the mutiny, it was Mr. Charles Wingfield who offered them a practicable solution to their problems. Through the Raja of Balrampur he organised safe passage for the remaining three fugitives to a military outpost in Nepal.
For Lieutenant Bonham and the three sergeants, the warning from the loyal subadar of Bonham’s regiment had been clear – avoid Byram Ghat at all costs. With this path closed to them, the fugitives struck out for a Gurkumnia Ghat, some miles further down the river. Bonham knew there was a danger of falling in with the Durriabad mutineers (this mutiny will be discussed in a further chapter) who were by this time well aware that the Europeans had left Secrora.
On nearing the ghat, the men halted their horses under a tope of trees and Bonham sent the men from his regiment who had accompanied them on to reconnoitre. To their relief, the Durribad mutineers had not yet arrived but as they were expected at any moment, all the ferry boats had been secured on the other side of the river to bring the mutineers over.
Although the rains had not yet broken the snow melt from the Himalayas had swollen the river to twice its normal size making swimming across with the horses impossible. Seeing the fix they were in, Bonham called on the village zamindar.
The man, although professing his willingness to help the fugitives refused, saying he was helpless without the boats. With time running out and patience running thin, Bonham drew out his revolver. Seeing the lieutenant meant business, the zamindar quickly changed his tune and admitted he did have a boat but it was too small to cross the river.
On going down to the ghat, Bonham saw there were in fact 2 boats, admittedly small but by lashing them together they could make them into one which would serve the purpose. Having experience in this kind of work when Bonham had brought the battery over the river to Secrora, he immediately ordered the zamindar to bring ropes, bamboo poles and above all boatmen. With their help, Bonham was able to furnish a makeshift craft, large enough not just for his party but the horses as well.
“We had some difficulty in shipping the horses, and when at length this was accomplished, we all got on board and pushed off into the stream. It was an anxious moment, for we were a heavy load, the water almost reaching the gunwales. The boatmen, however, worked with a will, and after being carried a long way downstream, Providence befriending us, we were safely landed on the other side.”
Before leaving Secrora, Bonham had taken the precaution of having his Pay Havildar put 100 Rupees in his holsters – with this money now Bonham could reward the boatmen well and deservedly so. The fugitives could now start on their way again, thankful to leave the river behind them.
Towards evening they finally stopped at a well for a drink and to water the horses. At the well, Bonham struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be a pensioner from the Bombay Army who was well acquainted with the countryside and claimed he could get them to Lucknow. Bonham offered him a reward if he would act as their guide. The man readily agreed but after a few moments said he would not proceed without his brother. The countryside was much disturbed and he was afraid to make the road back alone. Inviting Bonham and the others to his village, he asked them to wait for him in the courtyard of his house and he would not only rouse up his brother but provide them with food and drink. Ever cautious, Bonham realised that no matter how friendly this man was, the other villagers were not; declining his offer to wait in the village, the party made their way to a spot just outside its boundaries.
There they waited. After a long time, the man reappeared but he had neither brother nor food with him and on top of it all, he was hopelessly drunk. Unable to get another guide and obviously as this one was not reliable in his condition, Bonham reckoned Lucknow lay to the west of the present position. If they did not deviate too far, sooner or later they would come to the main road from Lucknow to Byram Ghat, which ran east of Lucknow.
“Taking our directions from the stars, we travelled all night, avoiding roads and villages, and keeping to the open country, without meeting any further trouble or misadventure.”
By dawn they found themselves at a large village which their now sober guide told them was Nawab Gunge Bara Banki. They had found the Byram Ghat road some fifteen miles east of Lucknow. As it was daylight however it was no longer practicable to keep to it, so they resorted to the open country again until they reached Chinhat. Here Bonham dismissed the guide, paying him as promised even though he had been useless, and leaving their Secrora escort to follow at their own pace, Bonham and his party rode into Lucknow.
They had crossed the river just in time. The mutinous regiments of Gonda and Secrora, after securing the government treasure moved across the Gograh at Byram Ghat for their rendezvous with the rest of the forces at Nawab Gunj Bara Banki. The pieces were falling into place – on the 30th of June, Bonham would meet them again at the Battle of Chinhat.
Before we can leave Bahraich, we will follow the journey of Mr. Wingfield and that of the ladies of Secrora and Gonda.
An Account of the Mutines in Oudh and of the Siege of the Lucknow Residency – Martin Richard Gubbins (1858)
A Personal Narrative of the Siege of Lucknow – L.E. Ruutz Rees (1858)
Annals of the Indian Rebellion – Noah Alfred Chick (1859)
Kaye’s and Malleson’s History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, Vol III, Cabinet Edition – edited by Colonel Malleson, C.S.I. (1889)
Bahraich, A District Gazetteer being Vol. XLV of the District Gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh – H.R.Nevill I.C.S. (1903)
The Hearseys, Five Generations of an Anglo-Indian Family – Colonel Hugh Pearse D.S.O. (1905)
Oude in 1857, Some Memories of the Indian Mutiny – Colonel John Bonham (1928)