A Widow's Reminiscences of the Siege of Lucknow.
by Katherine Mary Bartrum.
London, James Nisbet & Co., 1858.
SIEGE OF LUCKNOW.
|Gone! are ye then all gone?|
|The good, the beautiful, the kind, the dear,|
|Passed to your glorious rest so swiftly on,|
|And left me weeping here.|
|Into the haven passed,|
|They anchor far beyond the scathe of ill;|
|While the stern billow and the reckless blast,|
|Are mine to cope with still.|
JAMES NISBET & Co., 21, BERNERS STREET.
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
ROBERT HENRY BARTRUM,
BENGAL MEDICAL SERVICE,
BORN AUGUST 16TH, 1831,
KILLED AT THE RELIEF OF LUCKNOW,
SEPTEMBER 26TH, 1857:
ROBERT SPILSBURY BARTRUM,
ONLY CHILD OF THE ABOVE
ROBERT HENRY BARTRUM AND KATHERINE MARY,
BORN FEBRUARY 17TH, 1856, DIED FEBRUARY 11TH, 1858.
|"Is it well with thy Husband?|
|Is it well with thy Child?|
|And she answered, It is well."|
|2 KINGS, iv. 26.|
IT is not the wish of the writer of this little Volume, any more than it is in her power, to draw, in glowing colours, a picture of sights and scenes through which it has been her lot to pass, but merely, at the desire of her friends, to give in simple truthfulness a detail of those domestic occurrences which fell immediately under her own observation during the siege of Lucknow, to show how wonderfully she was protected in perils and dangers of no ordinary kind, and how, when called to drink deeply of the cup of human sorrow, the arm of the Lord was her stay, a "rock of defence in the day of trouble."
Bath, November, 1858.
|Letters written from Gonda – Letter of 29th May, after hearing news of the Outbreak at Meerut and Delhi – Alarm of Mutiny at the neighbouring Station of Fyzabad – Letter of 30th May – Alarm at Gonda – Police Sowars shew signs of rising – Small chance of escape – Ladies ordered to be sent to Lucknow – Part from my Husband – Terror of Flight – Alone with Sepoy Guard – Overtake Secrora Fugitives – Rest at Ramnuggur – Reach Lucknow.||1|
|Lucknow Party separated, sent to Begum Kotie – Anxiety for those left behind – Divide Rooms – Servant arrives from Gonda – News of Dr. Bartrum's escape – Letter from Dr. Bartrum – Second Letter from Dr. Bartrum from Goruckpore – Mrs. Clark joins the party – Servants desert – Take charge of Room – Daily life – First death in our Garrison.||16|
|Battle of Chinhut – Siege begins – Rations – Native Cooking – Children suffer from bad food – Suffer from heat – No Coolie to pull Punkah – Disturbed by night attacks – Sir H. Lawrence wounded – Muchee Bhowan blown up – Mr. Ommaney wounded – Mr. Polehampton wounded – Small Pox in our Garrison – Second death – Mrs. Polehampton sent to Begum Kotie – Death of Mrs. Clark – Child very ill – Another death – Baby better – Get milk for him – Dr. Darby – Ladies sent to our garrison from Brigade mess – Rations reduced.||27|
|Officer shot himself – Anxiety for Child – Eclipse of Sun – Letter from Sir James Outram – Firing heard – Relieving force come in – Hear Dr. Bartrum is with them – Left behind with heavy artillery – Dr. Bartrum not arrived – See Mrs. Polehampton – Learn the truth – Dr. Bartrum's servants come in with horse – Dr. Bradshaw brings account of his death – Take child round the Residency – Bearer wounded – Kindness of strangers.||41|
|Sir Colin Campbell – Prepare to leave Lucknow – Dr. Darby wounded – Leave Lucknow – Secundra Bagh – Carried off by bearers – Escape to party of our own men – Reach the camp – Find letters – Leave Dil Koosha Palace – Bullock carts – Forced march to Cawnpore – Leave Cawnpore – Allahabad – Welcome – Christmas – Leave Allahabad in boats – Benares – Dinapore – Enter Sunderbunds – Reach Calcutta.||52|
|The Himalaya – Decide to go by the Cape – Letter home – Child very ill – Mrs. Polehampton – Only a week to prepare for Voyage – Bearers' grief at parting – Visit Himalaya – Prepare to sail – Lady Canning – Child very ill – Child dies.||66|
|Letters of Dr. Bartrum after his escape from Gonda – Join Secrora officers – Sepoys well inclined, though mutinous – Rajah of Balrumpore – Ghazeepore – Hardships of flight – Goruckpore – Charge of ladies – Slaughter of officers at Fyzabad – Azimghur – Destruction of station – Venables – Havelock – Advance on Cawnpore – News from Lucknow – The Goorkhas – Fever – Unfit for duty – Benares – Anxiety – General Lloyd at Dinapore.||73|
|Dr. Bartrum's Letters continued – Camp near Allahabad – General Outram and reinforcements – Attached to Artillery under Major Eyre – Lucknow able to hold out – Midnight march by moonlight – Village of rebels – Boats destroyed – The weather – Destroy Village – Prisoners shot – Cawnpore Troops cross the river – Reconnoitring party – Fighting – Last entry in Diary.||84|
|Letter of Medical Officer – Sept 21, first action; heavy rain – Bivouac – Beat Sepoys – Encamp in the Alumbagh – Rear attacked – Commence action – Furious cannonade – Loopholed walls of gardens – The bridge – Doolie bearers killed – Gain large Building – Care of all the wounded – Night of horror – Morning – Enemy get range of Building – Cut off from main-body – Cross river – Palanquin bearers desert the wounded – Gain small house – House set on fire – Break through wall – Chatty of water – Firing outside – Enfield Rifles – Relief.||88|
Letters written from Gonda – Letter of 29th May, after hearing news of the Outbreak at Meerut and Delhi – Alarm of Mutiny at the neighbouring Station of Fyzabad – Letter of 30th May – Alarm at Gonda – Police Sowars shew signs of rising – Small chance of Escape – Ladies ordered to be sent to Lucknow – Part from my Husband – Terror of Flight – Alone with Sepoy guard – Overtake Secrora Fugitives – Best at Ramnuggur – Reach Lucknow.
IN order to the full understanding of the following short narrative, it will be needful for me to state that at the commencement of the mutiny in the Indian native army, my late husband and myself were stationed with our child at Gonda, a military station in Oude, about eighty miles from Lucknow, where, after several changes since our arrival in India, we had been living for the last eight months the peaceful and retired life of an Indian officer's family in an up-country station. Visits from friends had been few and far between, and there had been little to mark the lapse of time but the welcome arrival of letters from England, which told of the joys and sorrows of those we loved at home. It was from peaceful security, such as this, that we were suddenly aroused on the 22nd of May, 1857, by the alarming news of the massacres at Meerut and Delhi of all the European inhabitants of those stations. This was followed a few days afterwards by the announcement of the murder of Brigadier Handscombe, by the men of the 71st N.T., and also of further disturbance at Lucknow. We therefore commenced making a wall round the Treasury, for defence in case of need.
On the 2nd we heard of disturbances at Moradabad, and disarming of regiments at Lahore. The fortification of the Treasury was proceeded with, though with little hope of its being any protection.
The effect of these fearful tidings, and state of trembling anxiety in which we lived during the few days preceding my flight to Lucknow, will be best explained by the insertion of the following letters, which, during the interval, I wrote home: –
"Gonda, May 29, 1857.
"My dearest Father,
"Your letters of the 25th of last month have just reached in time for me to answer them by the mail, which leaves tomorrow. It is seldom that I defer writing until so late, but the past fortnight has been one of such intense anxiety and trouble to every one, that we have been unable to think of anything but our own fears and terror. I think we have all become fearfully nervous; every unusual sound makes one start; for who can trust these natives now, when they seem to be thirsting for European blood?
"We feel great confidence in the steadiness of our own regiment; but should they be corrupted by communication with other discontented parties, why, no one can answer for them. You will read in the papers the fearful accounts of the massacres at Meerut and Delhi: we knew Colonel Finnis, who was killed at Meerut; and all the 88th N.I., the regiment which was stationed at this place, when we came here, were at Delhi.
"I cannot describe to you what our feelings have been lately – only ten Europeans in the place, completely at the mercy of the natives: what could we do if they chose to rise? Many were the plans suggested of fortifying ourselves in one house, but this would give rise to suspicion, and the natives would think we were afraid of them; and even I don't feel afraid of the cowards, only one does not like the idea of being murdered with those who are dearest to you. Then they talked of sending Mrs. Clark and myself, with our children, down the river in a native boat to Calcutta, which we strongly opposed; for it would be better to die with our husbands than leave them alone; but our precautions would have been unnecessary for, God has disposed the hearts of this people to be favourable towards us, and now we do not feel so much cause for alarm.
"We have had no news from Delhi, since last I wrote, the natives having taken possession of the roads, and cut off all communication with that place, so that the fate of those remaining there is wrapped in mystery. Our European regiments from Simla and Umballa must be there now; but you know the distance is so great, and the English cannot travel in this weather like natives, so that there has been great delay in reaching Delhi; but they will not be slow in avenging the blood of our brothers and sisters; and soon all that remains of this ancient Indian capital will be one vast tomb.
"The news received to-day, the 29th, from Agra, the nearest station to Delhi, was that the firing of artillery was heard, so that our troops must have reached, but this is all we can yet learn.
"The next station to us, Fyzabad, is in rather an anxious state. One regiment shews signs of discontent, and our regiment is warned to be ready at any moment to start thither; however, I trust there will be no necessity for this. If signal vengeance is taken on the mutineers it is hoped others will be intimidated, and quietness be once more restored to our land; but we can never feel confidence in these native regiments again, and of course European troops will have to be stationed in every large city. Lucknow has been well fortified by our Commissioner, Sir H. Lawrence. There are many poor ladies and children shut up in the Residency.
"You may imagine how I have longed to he at home, once more in England, with my husband and child in safety; but well may I say, 'The Lord hath been a tower of defence in the day of trouble, for when no arm of flesh could save us, He alone has proved our shelter amidst the storm.
"During this time I have been troubled too about my babe, for the intense heat which we have been enduring seems at times almost to overpower his little strength; but the rains will soon be commencing, and then I hope we shall have the weather rather cooler and more endurable than this.
"Baby is such a precocious little fellow, and learns almost too quickly. When I tell him he is naughty, he runs into the corner by himself: he becomes more amusing every day, and makes one forget all troubles with his little bright face.
"But I must finish this. Give my love to all. I cannot write much this time, and at the present moment the heat is so overpowering that it makes even writing difficult.
"With very much kind love to yourself,
"Believe me, my dearest father,
"Your ever affectionate daughter,
"KATHERINE M. B."
"Gonda, May 30, 1857.
"My dearest E.,
"Nothing must prevent my writing to you, though I do not feel as if I could say much; I have been so terror-struck at all the fearful and heartrending scenes that have lately been transacted in this unhappy country that I have scarcely spirits even to write home; but I trust all these disturbances will soon be at an end, and that such an example will be made of the mutineers that the natives will be intimidated from ever committing such fearful massacres again. We have had such a heartrending time since last I wrote my home letters. I know I was never very brave, but how could I help feeling frightened at the tales of bloodshed and horror which the papers have been bringing us almost daily. All the time we were in that dreadful suspense, when each morning brought news which made the stoutest heart tremble, and we did not know when our turn might come. I cannot tell you how I felt; I could neither sleep, eat, talk, or do anything but look to my husband for protection against foes which I fancied near at hand. I used to sit and cry over baby, thinking it might soon be snatched from my arms and murdered before my very eyes. But, God be thanked, we are yet spared – the living to praise Him. How I longed to be at home with you all. I sometimes feared I should never see you again on earth; but we are gaining more courage and putting away these sad thoughts now, for I trust all will soon be at peace: but alas! for the widows and orphans who are mourning the loss of many a loved one. That Mrs. G. you spoke of was at Delhi; her husband was murdered, and no one knows what has become of her and her children. But what fearful tales we shall soon hear: I hope not one stone of Delhi will be left standing. The Commander-in-Chief has been very slow in reaching there; every one is incensed against him; but we shall see how he will act in regard to the mutineers. I can talk of nothing but this, and you will not be much surprised.
"Thank J. B. for the Missionary Intelligencer; it is quite a treat to me to read anything of this kind in India, where one seldom meets with a Missionary. I fear we shall never get one at Gonda.
"Dear baby is very well; the merriest little fellow you ever saw.
"Your affectionate sister,
"K. M. B."
June 6. – We are becoming alarmed. The Police Sowars shew symptoms of rising. The Clarks sleep at our bungalow. Unquiet nights and weary days: all things are insecure. An express detailing sad loss of life came in.
Sunday, the 7th, was a day of great disturbance; news of the massacres at Saharunpore and Seetapore came in, giving an account of the wholesale slaughter of the European inhabitants. We were now alarmed, and not without cause; for though of our own regiment we felt tolerably confident, we knew not what effect the bad example of other corps might have on our men.
For many nights we had scarcely dared to close our eyes. I kept a sword under my pillow, and dear R. had his pistol loaded ready to start up at the slightest sound, though small would have been our chance of escape had we been attacked: a little hand of a dozen Europeans against a whole regiment of Sepoys. My husband always consoled me with the promise that should things come to the worst he would destroy me with his own hand rather than let me fall into the power of those brutal Sepoys. Never can I forget that time: how I clung to him for help and protection at this fearful time, though we both felt that "the Lord alone was a strong tower of defence against the enemy." We used to look at our unconscious babe, laughing in happy innocence, and then at each other, neither willing to express the sad thoughts that were uppermost in the minds of both. At 4 p.m. a messenger arrived from Secrora, saying that Sir Henry Lawrence had desired that the ladies and children from the out-stations should be sent into Lucknow immediately for better security. The letter from Secrora stated that the ladies would start from that station at eight the same evening, and advised our joining them, that we might proceed together into Lucknow, a distance of eighty miles from Gonda. This was a sudden blow to me. Often had I contemplated death with my husband, but not separation from him; and under such terrible circumstances too, when his cheerful spirit and loved companionship were more than ever needed to raise my drooping courage at the prospect of dangers and distresses little anticipated by anyone. Most earnestly did I plead that I might be allowed to remain with him; but he convinced me that were it only for my baby's sake I ought to go into Lucknow, and we should then both of us have more chance of escaping with our lives than by remaining at Gonda. God alone knows how bitter was the struggle to feel that it was my duty to leave him: but how little did I then think that we were to meet no more on earth. I put together a few things for baby, and took one last look round the house which had been to me such a happy home, that the thought of sorrow reaching me there had seldom crossed my mind. At six in the evening, Mrs. Clark, myself, and our two children started on elephants; Mr. Clark and my husband accompanying us as far as Secrora, sixteen miles distant, where we were to join the other ladies, and proceed together to Lucknow. We took a circuitous route in order to avoid coming in contact with the Sowars, who had been turned out of the station that morning. A native went before to show us the way, and great was my fear lest he should lead us into some village where we might be surrounded by mutinous sepoys. We reached Secrora at 11 p.m., and found to our dismay that the party had left the station two hours previously, so that our only chance was to journey on until we overtook them. We stayed for half-an-hour at Mr. Wingfield's, where we had some tea and milk for the children, and then bid farewell to our husbands. They put us on our elephants, and well do I remember dear Robert's cheerful, "Good bye dear Kate, keep up your spirits, we shall soon meet again, and take care of my little darling."
I begged him to go on with us, but he could not leave the regiment, though his heart ached at giving his wife and child into the care of a guard of sepoys, in whom he could feel but little confidence. Mr. Hale gave me a large wrapper to make a more comfortable seat on the elephant; and I took baby in my arms, gave my husband a last tearful look, and thus we commenced our midnight journey, casting all our care upon Him who never slumbereth or sleepeth. Our spirits were by no means cheered at hearing the threatening language of our escort during the whole of that fearful night, and feeling our own perilous position – two helpless women and two little children, entirely in the power of these men; but God in His infinite wisdom softened their hearts towards us. Sometimes they made our elephant stand still whilst they lay upon the ground laughing and talking; but whenever I asked them for water for baby to drink, they would give it me. Once when they were loading their guns, I asked them what they were going to do. "Oh," they said, "there are so many bad people about, we are going to fight for you." And so we journeyed on throughout that weary night with hearts fearful and trembling. At eight on Monday morning we overtook the party who had preceded us: they were all on the other side of the river, and we followed them, crossing in boats. We rested at the village of Ramnuggur, at the house of a Thanadar, where we were able to bathe the children and get some food. Our party consisted of seven ladies, twelve children, and four officers. We remained at this place until the afternoon. At 4 p.m., we mounted our elephants again to proceed on our journey; and the terror of that night cannot be described, and never will be effaced from my memory. We constantly met with parties who threatened to intercept our progress, and they were only prevented from doing so by the skilful management of Captain H. Forbes, who dissuaded them from their purpose. It was indeed to his coolness and bravery, that, under the protecting hand of God, we owed our safe arrival in Lucknow. That we ever reached the place was little short of a miracle: we arrived there June 9th, having had to flee from our own escort, weary and exhausted with hot winds, dust, and scorching sun, and worn out with fatigue, in addition to the anxiety we felt as to the fate of those dearest to us, whom we had left behind. When we entered the Residency, it presented a scene of the utmost confusion, so that I could scarcely recognise it to be the same place I had seen a year before.
Lucknow Party separate – Sent to Begum Kotie – Anxiety for those left behind – Divide Rooms – Servant arrives from Gonda – News of Dr. Bartrum's escape – Letter from Dr. Bartrum – Second Letter from Dr. Bartrum from Gorruckpore – Mrs. Clark joins the party – Servants desert – Take charge of Room – Daily life – First death in our Garrison.
Our party separated, some going to one garrison1 and some to another. My friend Mrs. Clark, and her child, went to the Residency, whilst I accompanied another party to a house called the Begum-Kotie, a most uninviting looking place, so dirty, having neither a punkah to cool the air or a scrap of furniture to set it off, but we had to make the best of it. I scarcely knew any one in Lucknow at that time, and the few I did know were members of other garrisons, so that we never met. Who can describe the trouble and anxiety of that period? I was then left for the first time to take care of myself, separated from dear Robert, and ignorant of what had become of him. In addition to this, I was entirely without servants, and thrown amongst a crowd of strangers, too much taken up with their own trials and anxieties to heed another. But this was but the beginning of troubles, and we felt that we must set ourselves with brave hearts and ready hands to encounter the miseries and discomforts consequent upon our situation. Many set to work with cheerfulness and energy to render our uncomfortable room more habitable, and on that first night we slept, fifteen in one room, packed closely together, so that each might feel the benefit of the punkah, which Mrs. Boileau with her usual energy and forethought had managed to have put up during the day. We had to endure intense heat (for this was the hottest part of the year), mosquitoes and flies in swarms. How great a change after the comforts of our own homes! and, at the same time, how great was our anxiety concerning the fate of our husbands! for as yet we had had no news of them.
June 10. – We divided our room into portions, each person taking a corner for herself, which she henceforth looked upon as her own property, where she stowed away her bed and other valuables, principally consisting of a single change of linen, for those who, like myself, had fled in from the district, not being able to save anything, were indebted to the kindness of many in Lucknow, who promptly and willingly gave their clothes, and supplied other comforts to those who came in as fugitives from the out-stations.
June 11. – One of my servants came in from Gonda, bringing the bundle of clothes which in my distress I had forgotten to take with me on the elephant. He told me he had left his master well, and the regiment was quiet: this was an immense relief to my anxiety.
June 12. – Received a short note from dear Robert, telling me of his escape from Gonda with the other officers. Very grateful was I to the Father of all mercies to think he had escaped from the hands of those murderous Sepoys, and that we might ere long meet again. I also received two notes written from Gonda, when he had not heard of my safe arrival in Lucknow, of which the following is one: –
"Gonda, June 9, 1857.
"My dearest K.,
"I trust that the Almighty has given you a safe refuge.... Having passed the night at Secrora, we rode over here this morning. Matters here are much the same as when you left; a general feeling of security exists, but we are making preparations for an endeavour to escape if matters come to the worst. Oh! that I may be spared to see you and my sweet little boy, but having done our best we must rest our hope on Him who alone is able to save. This I trust I devoutly do. Do not therefore be anxious, but let us at this season ask for the grace of God in a repentant spirit. I am not fit to die; but do, my dearest wife, as you love me, pray that a new heart may be given me, and that if anything happens, we may meet at that throne of grace where there is no more mourning or sorrow.
"E. C. is a good companion in these trying times; his spirit is that of perfect dependence upon the Almighty. I trust that grace may be given us both to support this spirit, and that if we do not incur danger the effect may not pass from us; but that I may be a more fitting companion to you in the road that leads to life.... You must not mind the discomforts about you; only do not be too anxious, and so become ill, as our little baby will suffer for it.... We hope to reach Bulrampore, if there is any disturbance; and I trust if such is the case we may get some previous notice of it. I have nothing more to add, my beloved wife, but to ask you to pray for me, as does for you
"Your attached husband."
June 14. – Heard again from dear Robert, that he and his party had reached Bulrampore in safety. From this time I never heard again; no further news reached me, as all communication was cut off between Lucknow and every other place. Each day brought in fresh fugitives from the out-stations, and fearful were the tales they told of the cruel scenes they had witnessed, and from which, through the mercy of God, they had escaped. Saw Mrs. Clark: she has been at the Residency since we came in, but now thinks of coming to our room.
June 20. – Mrs. Clark and her little child have joined our party; she is soon expecting her confinement, and she would rather be with me than any one else, though she has had many more comforts where she has been than she can have in our crowded room. Her little boy is beginning to look very sickly; he was always an extremely delicate child; and this intense heat, the crowded room, and want of fresh air, are felt even by the strongest. My own little darling is still fat and bonnie; I am rejoicing over him with trembling, for I cannot but fear what effect this close confinement may have on him. I have laid in a small store of candles and soap; the servants say that we shall soon be shut up, and shall not be able to get supplies of any kind.
June 27. – All our servants have deserted us, and now our trials have begun in earnest; from morning till night we can get no food cooked, and have not the means of doing it for ourselves: how we are to manage now, I cannot tell.
June 28. – We have found a woman who promises to cook for us once a day, and brings us hot water for breakfast and tea; if she will only make my baby's food, I shall be able to manage tolerably well. My time is fully occupied in nursing, and washing our clothes, together with cups and saucers, and fanning away the flies which have become a fearful nuisance. Sometimes when the food is placed on the table, we cannot tell what it is, for it only looks like a black and living mass.
I have taken upon myself to keep the room somewhat neat and clean, for most of my fellow sufferers are too ill, mentally and bodily, to care how things look; but it troubles me much to see things untidy about me, and so long as God gives me health and strength I will do my best to add to the comfort of others, even if I afford them amusement by giving them occasion to call me the servant-of-all-work. Strength is given in proportion to our day, and truly I found it so, for never did I more stand in need of an energetic and independent spirit than now, surrounded by strangers, with no husband near to look up to for protection and help, and with my little babe entirely dependent upon me. In one way it was almost a blessing to have no servants, because it gave us so much occupation that we had less time to dwell upon our troubles and anxieties concerning those absent from us; and many a smile was drawn forth at the very absence of the comforts and even the necessaries of life. But it is time to give a description of our daily mode of life. We were up as soon as it was light, having opened our eyes upon a large whitewashed room, containing seven charpogs (by which I mean native bedsteads), one long table, three chairs – for few of us were possessed of such things, and some boxes and bundles scattered about the room. Our first occupation was washing and dressing our children and setting things to rights, for this was our sitting as well as sleeping apartment; then breakfast was to be thought of, and this appeared when it suited our attendant to bring it, and then it looked so uninviting that hunger alone made it palatable. The rest of the day was employed in various domestic matters, and in endeavouring to keep ourselves cool, but the heat was most intense and many were beginning to suffer greatly from its effects. In the evening when the work of the day was over and our little ones were asleep, we used to gather round a chair, which formed our tea-table, sitting on the bedside, and drinking our tea (not the strongest in the world) by the light of a candle which was stuck in a bottle, that being our only candlestick, and then we talked together of bygone days, of happy homes in England where our childhood had been spent, bringing from memory's stores tales to cheer the passing hour, and thinking of loved ones far away: of the father that knew not as yet that his child was a captive in a foreign land: of the bright band of sisters and brothers who formed the household circle: but most of all of the husband fleeing perhaps for his life, whose heart was with his wife and child in their captivity, and who might even then be coming to their rescue – and many were the prayers sent up to heaven that such might be the case.
June 29th. – A sudden blow has fallen upon us: the first of our little band has been taken away. Poor Mrs. Hale died today. She was taken ill at three o'clock in the afternoon with cholera, and though everything was done for her by the medical men and those around which skill and kindness could suggest, it was all in vain; at 6 p.m. all pain left her, and we saw that she was rapidly sinking; the dews of death began to gather on her brow and she soon became unconscious. Mr. Harris, the chaplain, came and read some of the Visitation Service, and then as we stood beside her watching her gentle breathing, her spirit passed away to the God who gave it. It was the first time I had ever seen death in any shape, and great was the shock when the first was taken from among us, though we could not but feel that poor Mrs. H. was much to be envied in being spared all the sufferings of that terrible siege. At eight that evening she was laid in her coffin. I took her little Katie and put her to sleep. Poor little lamb, how unconscious was she of her sad loss: a motherless babe amongst strangers and her father far away. But her Heavenly Father took care of her, and she found a home and kind friends with Major and Mrs. Marriott, but notwithstanding all their care, her strength and health, like that of the other children, gradually faded away and she died, just before General Havelock entered Lucknow.
Battle of Chinhut – Siege begins – Rations – Native Cooking – Children suffer from bad food – Suffer from heat – No Coolie to pull Punkah – Disturbed by night attacks – Sir H. Lawrence wounded – Muchee Bhowan blown up – Mr. Ommaney wounded – Mr. Polehampton wounded – Small Pox in our Garrison – Second death – Mrs. Polehampton sent to Begum Kotie – Death of Mrs. Clark – Child very ill – Another death – Baby better – Get milk for him – Dr. Darby – Ladies sent to our garrison from Brigade mess – Rations reduced.
June 30. – The unfortunate engagement at Chinhut took place this morning, when our troops were beaten back with severe loss and our gates closed, and from this day the siege actually commenced. As to myself I knew but little of what went on outside our room. We dared not venture out on account of the shot and shell which were flying thickly about, and I found enough to do indoors in the care of my baby and the constant drudgery of household work.
July 1. – From this day rations were served out to us: attar, or flour, which we made into chupatties; rice; dall, or peas; salt and meat. This would have been quite sufficient for our wants had we been able to get it properly cooked; but the natives who undertook to prepare it for us would only do so on the condition that all our rations wore cooked together. These, consisting of the meat, peas, attar, rice, and sea biscuits, were put together into a saucepan with some water and made into a stew; but as the saucepan was of copper and could not be relined during the siege, the food when it was turned out was often perfectly green – hunger alone could make it enjoyable. But it was the children who suffered most; they could not eat such food as this, and we had none else to give them. My own little baby! could papa have seen you now, how would his heart have ached. The nights were more wearisome than the days, for the heat was so intense that the children could not sleep, and we could seldom find a coolie to pull the punkah. Often we sat up fanning the poor little things ourselves that they might obtain rest. Oh! those weary hours of watching, when with nothing else to occupy our thoughts they would wander from the innocent babe before one far away to peaceful England, and we wondered if any there were remembering in their petitions "all prisoners and captives." We were often disturbed during the night by an attack from our enemies outside, when some one would cry out "All lights to be put out!" thus greatly increasing our distress, as the children would cry at being in darkness, and we ourselves were trembling with fear lest the enemy should get in. This was at the commencement of the siege, for we soon became so used to such things that they caused far less alarm than at first, though they were always frightful enough.
July 2. – Heard that Sir Henry Lawrence was wounded this morning by a shell. Last night the Muchee Bhowan fort was blown up; it was such a tremendous shock that we all sprung out of our beds not knowing what had happened, but thinking that the sepoys had really blown up our defences and forced their way in. Our room was so thick in dust that when we had lighted a candle we could scarcely see one another; the bricks and mortar had fallen from the ceiling and the poor little children were screaming with terror. My baby was standing up in bed shouting for mamma, who was as much frightened as he was; but we were reassured by Captain Thomas of the Artillery, who ran in and said it was "All right!" He had just rushed into the Residency, through the city, with the other officers who were holding the Muchee Bhowan, and not a shot had been fired at them: his poor wife, who was an occupant of the same house as ourselves, was almost overpowered with joy at seeing her husband come in safely.
July 4. – Heard that Mr. Ommaney had been severely wounded and was not expected to recover. Sir Henry Lawrence died this morning.
July 8. – I was standing by the door with baby, looking out into the courtyard at a little girl playing with a round shot, when she was struck in the head and killed instantly. It gave me such a shock that I fainted away at the time, and I can never think of that poor little child without a shudder.
Mr. Ommaney died to-day. I heard also that Mr. Polehampton had been wounded yesterday, but that he was doing well. I had seen him but once since coming into Lucknow, but that one glimpse of such a bright face was enough to cheer one's heart for a week: I trust he will be spared, for how sad will be the loss to the whole garrison if he is taken away.
July 10. – A wretched day of incessant firing; all the children are weak and ill, and no wonder, for they feel the deprivation of fresh air and good food more than we do. When will there be an end to all this wretchedness!
July 12. – Mrs. Thomas is very ill; there is a rumour that she has small pox. How terrible if such is the case, when we are so closely confined and there is no possibility of getting fresh air: I tremble for my poor baby, as there is every chance of his taking it. Our troubles and anxieties are daily increasing and at times seem overwhelming, but "the Lord sitteth above the waterflood."
July 16. – The second of our household has been taken away. Mrs. T. died this morning of small pox, and leaves a little girl who looks as though she would not long survive her.
July 20. – Mrs. Clark was confined to-day; what a scene does our room present: nine of us in it, and poor Mrs. C. so ill that she ought to be kept perfectly quiet. Mrs. K. and myself have enough on our hands now, and if our health should fail, what would become of the poor little children. Heard this morning that Mr. Polehampton had died of cholera. In the evening his poor wife, with Mrs. Gall and Mrs. Barber (two widows whose husbands had been killed just before the commencement of the siege) came to the Begum Kotee and occupied the room next to ours. I had not seen Mrs. Polehampton since I had met her a year before, just as we had both come to Lucknow, and when everything was shining brightly around the path of each: and now it makes my heart ache to see her in "this first-lorn hour of widowhood, when not a prop seems left below, yet cheered and cheering all the while with mild but unaffected smile." May God comfort her desolate heart! earthly consolation is of no avail in sorrow such as this.
July 29. – What a sad week has the past one been. Poor Mrs. Clark is gradually sinking, and her babe is dying. Her mind is constantly wandering, and she tells me to sit beside her, for she has much to say to me. I have been listening to her during the night; she frequently exclaims, "Lighten my darkness I beseech Thee, Lord," and many such beautiful expressions. She takes no notice of her children, both of whom are daily getting weaker from want of proper nourishment.
July 30. – Mrs. Clark seemed easier this morning: we fancied she was better, but it was not really so. She told me she wanted to sit up, and asked me to bring her boxes and pack them up as she was going on a long journey and must have everything prepared. I did what she wished, sorted her things and put them back in the boxes. "Thank you," she said, "now I am quite ready: the doolie is here, but the bearers have not come." Yes, she was ready to depart and the angels were waiting to carry her to her bright home above. I gave her some arrowroot, and from that time she never spoke again, but seemed to be quietly dosing all day. In the evening we saw that she was rapidly sinking: Mr. Harris came and read some of the Visitation prayers and baptized the little babe; there was no one to ask what it should be named, and we called it after its mother. Oh! it was a mournful scene: that poor young thing and her child dying far away from all she loved. She was one of those gentle beings who could not struggle through hardships and trials such as we then had to endure, one of
|"Those holy ones and weakly, |
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more."
July 31. – My poor friend has been carried to her last abode this morning. The infant is sinking: it is strange it has lived so long. My own little babe is taken ill with cholera: may God in mercy spare him to me!
August 1. – Last night Dr. Wells told me my child was dying; he was so ill he would take no notice of me. Mrs. Polehampton came to help me nurse him: she was ever ready in the midst of her own sorrow to comfort those who were in trouble. We administered the strongest remedies which could be given to a child, and I knelt at his bedside all night, and towards morning he began to revive, sat up, and looked so bright. Thank God my child was spared to me; but oh! how weak he was: he could scarcely lift up his little head, for the strong remedies which had been used had so affected him and the fresh air which was wanted to restore his strength he could not have.
August 2. – A day of intense misery, for I was taken ill myself; there was no one to nurse my child and I was almost too weak to hold him. There was no kind husband near to cheer and comfort me at this trying time, and my chief anxiety was about my babe, for if I should be taken away, who would there be to care for him. Mrs. Clark's infant died to-day. Her other little child was taken charge of by Mrs. Pitt, but notwithstanding the tender care which was taken of him, he sank from exhaustion and died about a fortnight after.
August 8. – Another has been taken away: poor Mrs. K. has lost her child, such a sweet little thing that it was petted and loved by all in the room. I helped the poor mother to wash and dress it, and Captain Greydon sent us a little box, in which we laid it: there were now only three of us left, and we looked at each other, as much as to say: "Who will be the next to go?" I felt as if I should go out of my mind if we stayed in that room any longer, so arrangements were made for us to go to Mrs. Ommaney's house and share a room with Mrs. Greene, and here we were much more comfortable: all around were kind and did what they could to assist us.
August 10. – Baby is so much better that I am quite in spirits about him, he will not be away from me for an instant: so that I have enough to do between washing, cooking, and nursing. How tired I get; but it is a great mercy that we have so much to occupy us, giving less time for sad thoughts, as to how long this terrible siege is to last: whether relief will ever come, and what news we shall have concerning those that are dearest to us.
August 12. – Baby continues to get stronger. If I could only get him good food and fresh air I think he would get quite well again. Mrs. Martin gives me a little milk for him every day, and this is more precious than gold. Mrs. K. is very weak and unwell: she feels the loss of her child so deeply. We occupy the same part of the room and have our rations together, which at this time we have to cook for ourselves; she manages this famously, but I am terribly stupid at it. I am generally thinking more of baby than the dinner when I have to prepare it: however there is a prospect of my having sufficient opportunity for improving in this matter before the siege is over. I am generally up as soon as it is light, when I take baby out and look for wood to light the fire with, before we can boil the water for breakfast. Then I run across the road to see Mrs. Polehampton for a few minutes, come back and make baby's food, dress the little fellow, and set the room to rights. Generally there are some clothes to be washed, and then I pat my child to sleep and sit beside him to fan away the flies and mosquitoes, whilst I read the psalms and lessons; and how touchingly applicable were many of those beautiful psalms to our own case. Never before had been breathed forth with such earnestness those words, "O, let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before Thee: and preserve Thou those that are appointed to die;" and many other such expressions. I have seldom time to do any needlework, because when baby wakes I have to nurse him again and amuse him, and talk to him about Papa. When I ask him where his Papa is, he always points up to heaven. It is so strange, and I cannot bear to see him do it. Oh, this long and weary time since I heard from dear R.; what may not have happened!
We are sometimes fortunate enough to get a coolie to pull the punkah, by paying him very highly; but he is so tiresome, for he pulls well enough for a little time and then goes to sleep, so that I am quite tired of jumping out of bed to wake him up; but this is better than sitting up, as we sometimes do, to pull the punkah ourselves. My babe is so restless at night, and I fear he very much disturbs Mrs. G., who is ill.
August 16. – Saw Dr. Darby: he came to lance my fingers, which are covered with boils, and he says I must not use them; but I have no time to be idle, and my fingers must work away, notwithstanding their being so painful.
August 18. – My hands are getting worse instead of better. Dr. Darby came to lance them again. He is so kind: he brought me some sugar for baby, which he said he had stolen for me: he is in a sad state of anxiety about his wife, whom he left at Cawnpore, of which place we have heard terrible rumours. He knows that I have almost as much cause for anxiety myself, not knowing what has become of my husband. May God our Father spare us both to meet again. Every one is getting dispirited at having no news of relief. Are we forgotten altogether by our friends in England, that reinforcements never appear?
August 20. – A number of ladies have come from the brigade mess to this house, so that we have to move from this room into the next, and share it with Mrs. Fullerton and her little girl. My baby is so weak still that I am very anxious about him. Dr. Darby comes to see him daily and is very kind. He always does what he can in the way of obtaining for me such things as arrowroot and soujee, a kind of flour which I boil up for baby, or make it into chupatties for him. We are getting in distress for wood; for all we pick up is so wet that it will not burn. One of the soldiers broke down some railings for us; but it is a difficult matter to chop them up, since I have only my dinner knife to do it with, and this will be worn out should the siege last much longer. We cook in the verandah now, where we have made two little fire places with bricks. We hear the rations are to be reduced.
Officer shot himself – Anxiety for Child – Eclipse of Sun – Letter from Sir James Outram – Firing heard – Relieving force come in – Hear Dr. Bartrum is with them – Left behind with heavy artillery – September 27: Dr. Bartrum not arrived – See Mrs. Polehampton – Learn the truth – Dr. Bartrum's servants come in with horse – Dr. Bradshaw brings account of his death – Take child round the Residency – Bearer wounded – Kindness of strangers.
August 19. – Heard that one of the officers who accompanied us from Secrora had shot himself: he was out of his mind at the time. How sad for his poor wife, who has just lost a little child, and now this second blow has fallen upon her. Truly,
"The air is fall of farewells to the dying, |
And mournings for the dead."
August 20. – All goes on day by day much as usual; we are all looking out for relief, and all experiencing that "hope deferred that makes the heart sick." I am so anxious, too, about baby: I can get so little food for him which can do him good. Mrs. Ousely gives me a small quantity of milk for him morning and evening, and only this, I think, keeps him alive; she has given me also a bottle of wine for him, and this is a precious gift in these times, for it is so scarce, that it is almost impossible to get any. We have used all our candles, and have therefore to content ourselves with a cotton wick placed in oil, which burns well enough, but is a miserable light to work by. We have also nearly finished our soap, and then I do not know what we shall do.
September 1. – Mrs. K. is extremely unwell, and quite laid up, so that the work falls more heavily on me; but as long as I am strong and well I do not mind it.
September 15. – Mrs. Fullerton, who occupies part of this room, has lost her husband. It makes my heart ache to see her in such trouble. Oh! these sad scenes of death and sorrow, when are they to come to an end?
September 18. – A partial eclipse of the sun; the natives foretell a famine. To many of our weary hearts, sunshine has been eclipsed for a long, long time; but who knows how soon it may appear again?
September 23. – Such joyful news! A letter is come from Sir J. Outram, in which he says we shall be relieved in a few days: everyone is wild with excitement and joy. Can it be really true? Is relief coming at last? And oh! more than all, will dear Robert come up? and shall we meet once more after these weary months of separation? Distant heavy firing has been heard all day.
September 24. – The excitement in the garrison is intense at the thought of being relieved; we can do nothing but listen for the distant guns.
September 25. – Firing heard in the city all day, and at six in the evening the relieving force entered the Residency, and at that moment the noise, confusion, and cheering, were almost overwhelming. My first thought was of my husband, whether he had accompanied the reinforcement, and I was not long left in suspense, for the first officer I spoke to told me he was come up with them, and that they had shared the same doolie on the previous night. My first impulse was to thank God that he had come; and then I ran out with baby amongst the crowd to see if I could find him, and walked up and down the road to the Bailie guard gate, watching the face of every one that came in; but I looked in vain for the one that I wanted to see, and then I was told that my husband was with the heavy artillery and would not be in till the next morning, so I went back to my own room. I could not sleep that night for joy at the thought of seeing him so soon, and how thankful I was that our Heavenly Father had spared us to meet again. The joy was almost too great, after four such weary months of separation, and I could hush my child to sleep with a glad and happy heart – a feeling I had not experienced for many a long night.
September 26. – Was up with the daylight, and dressed myself and baby in the one clean dress which I had kept for him throughout the siege until his papa should come. I took him out and met Mr. Freeling who told me that dear Robert was just coming in, that they had been sharing the same tent on the march, and that he was in high spirits at the thought of meeting his wife and child again. I waited, expecting to see him, but he did not come, so I gave baby his breakfast and sat at the door to watch for him again full of happiness. I felt he was so near me that at any moment we might be together again: and here I watched for him nearly all day. In the evening I took baby up to the top of the Residency, to look down the road, but I could not see him coming and returned back to my room disappointed.
September 27. – Still watching for my husband, and still he came not, and my heart was growing very sick with anxiety. This afternoon Dr. Darby came to me: he looked so kindly and so sadly in my face, and I said to him "How strange it is my husband is not come in!" "Yes," he said, "it is strange!" and turned round and went out of the room. Then the thought struck me: Something has happened which they do not like to tell me! But this was agony too great almost to endure, to hear that he had been struck down at our very gates. Of this first hour of bitter woe I cannot speak.... My poor little fatherless boy! who is to care for us now, baby?
Mrs. Polehampton came to me; she had passed through the furnace herself and could feel for others whom the storm had smitten down. She sat with me and scarcely spoke, for she knew there was no earthly consolation for one whom the "hand of the Lord had touched;" but her quiet, heartfelt sympathy was very precious in that first hour of desolation: when I felt that God had "forgotten to be gracious." It made one almost question why this fearful blow had fallen upon me, when I had such trust and confidence that my Heavenly Father would protect him and "cover his head in the day of battle" that I had never anticipated such a heavy stroke. Truly may I say, "All Thy waves and Thy storms have gone over me." And now from all my sorrow I must rouse myself for baby's sake. Poor little fellow, how often had I said to him, "Papa is come: now baby will get quite well." He could not understand why I was so sad, and would clasp his little arms round my neck and kiss away my tears. Now he was doubly dear to me: all I had left to make life endurable.
September 28. – Two of dear Robert's servants came in, confirming the sad news that their master was killed. They brought in his horse, my own black horse that I had had so many happy rides upon; he had carried my husband safely down the country, when he escaped from Gonda and had come up with him again to Lucknow. Oh! it was so sad to see him come in without his master. The servants brought in a few things belonging to him: his sword, pistol, and instrument case had all been taken from him.
September 29. – Dr. Darby came to see me again to-day, and brought with him Dr. Bradshaw of the 90th, who was with dear Robert at the time he fell. It made me almost forget my own sorrow to bear him spoken of in such high terms of praise. His was a glorious death: coming to the rescue of his wife and child, he fell at his post doing his duty. Dr. B. told me that as he was going across the courtyard with my husband, he said to him, "Bartrum, you are exposing yourself too much!" "Oh," he answered, "there is no danger;" when he was immediately struck in the temple and fell across his companion, saying, "It is all up with me," and died instantly. They laid him in a doolie, but whether he was ever brought into the Residency, which is not probable, or buried in the courtyard, or never buried at all, I could not ascertain; but "he had fought the good fight, he had finished his course, and I know that he shall rise again at the last day." I ought not to grieve so much at the manner of his death: he suffered no pain, he was not left in the hands of his enemies as many another good and brave man has been. I try to forget it; to think of him only as rejoicing in the presence of his God: he was faithful unto death, and I feel a perfect assurance that he has received that crown of life which the Lord has promised to those that love Him. And now I have only my baby to live for: may God in mercy spare him to me, for
"When I look into his eyes, and stroke his thoughtful
I dare not think what I should feel were I to lose him now."
September 30 to November 6. – Nothing but work, constant work. The relief which came in was no relief, only a reinforcement; but it saved us from destruction, since our own garrison were becoming so few in number that it greatly increased our danger and anxiety. Now, however, there are so many to feed that famine as well as war and pestilence stare us in the face: we have had little enough hitherto, and now we shall be worse off. There is one great comfort, the weather begins to get colder and there is much less sickness amongst the garrison: even darling baby looks better. But I am not inclined to look on the bright side of anything now, all looks so dark and there is no sweet hope now of meeting my husband whenever relief may come: indeed for myself I care but little whether we are relieved or not, but for baby; I want to take him to England, where he will be loved and cared for for his father's sake: my sweet little companion in all my trouble, what should I do without him? He is looking better now, every day I take him out round the Residency, the bearer and I, though truly it is not very safe, for the shots are constantly flying about, and one evening he had a narrow escape, as the bearer was wounded in the side and the ball glanced across the baby's leg. The two servants that came up with my husband are a great comfort to me, they relieve me of the very hard work, and yet I have still plenty to do. The weather is getting cold, and I am busy making warm clothes for my darling child. I have one black dress for myself which some one was kind enough to obtain for me; but this will be worn out if the siege lasts much longer. We are in such distress because we have used all our soap, and it is impossible to obtain any, so that we have to use the dall, or pease, by grinding it between two stones and making it into flour, and this is a good substitute for soap; but we have so little of it, that it is a question sometimes whether we shall use it to wash with, or to eat. It is more necessary now to our comfort than it ever was, for the distress and suffering we endure from dirt and vermin is almost unbearable. This would be bad enough in a cold climate, and how much worse is it in such intense heat as this. Every one is kind to me, and I meet with sympathy from many who were strangers to me before my sad loss, and "He who defendeth the cause of the fatherless and widow" has been a "very present help in time of need."
November 10. – We are still shut up, but looking for relief by the middle of this month. I never listen for the distant guns now, for with what different feelings do I look forward to this second relief. If ever I leave Lucknow I shall leave what is dearest behind me. I heard to day that Dr. Spilsbury had been taken to his rest, so that my best friend on this side the wide waters is gone. My little boy daily grows stronger: how his papa would have rejoiced over his returning health. But he has such an old, sad look: and no wonder, poor child, shut up in this terrible place. His chief amusement is calling the monkeys, which abound on the roofs of the houses, and often come down for food. I wonder if they know at home in England all that has happened. If dear E.'s name was not in the first list of killed and wounded, they cannot have heard by this time. His poor mother, I cannot bear to think of her grief: may God comfort her heart when she shall learn the sad truth.
November 16 – Sir Colin Campbell – Prepare to leave Lucknow – Dr. Darby wounded – November 19 – Leave Lucknow – Secundra Bagh – Carried off by bearers – Escape to party of our own men – Reach the camp – November 23 – Find letters – Leave Dil Koosha Palace – Bullock carts – Forced march to Cawnpore – Leave Cawnpore – Allahabad Welcome – Christmas – Leave Allahabad in boats – Benares – Dinapore – Enter Sunderbands – Reach Calcutta
November 16. – Sir Colin Campbell is close at hand, and within a thousand yards of our force. The firing to-day has been tremendous; we are wondering what they will do with us, or whether they will ever get us out of Lucknow.
November 17. – Heard that we are to leave Lucknow to-morrow night, with just what we can carry. Well! I can only carry my baby, and my worldly effects can be put into a very small compass, since they consist merely of a few old clothes. My heart fails me at the thought of the terrible march, with no one to look after me or care for me but God. I have lost my kind friend Dr. Darby, who has been wounded; and they say he will not recover. He promised to take care of me on the journey to Calcutta, but now I am utterly friendless.
November 19. – We are to leave Lucknow this evening, and each person is to be allowed a camel to carry their things. Dr. —, who came up with Sir Colin Campbell, has promised to obtain a doolie for me: this is very kind, for I think I could scarcely carry baby five miles; one does not feel over strong after a five months' siege. And now we must bid farewell to our little room, the scene of so much suffering and sorrow; and before night I shall pass the spot where my husband was killed, and where, perhaps, he has found a grave. Yesterday all the sick and wounded were removed to Dil Koosha, and Dr. Darby amongst them. How much I should like to see him again.
November 20. – Camp, five miles from Lucknow. We are at last released from our captivity. At six last evening I left the entrenchments in a doolie, with baby, passing through the Bailey Guard gate, the Furhut Buksh Palace, the Court of the Motee Munzil, and on to Secundra Bagh. In many places the road was very dangerous, and it would have been safer perhaps to have walked; but the doolie bearers ran as fast as they could, and we all reached Secundra Bagh in safety, where we were regaled with tea and bread and butter, a luxury indeed, after siege fare; and the more acceptable as we were nearly exhausted from having had little food during the day. Dear little baby thought it a great feast, but he was too young to understand what all this noise and confusion were about. When it became dark the order was given for us to march, so we got into the doolies again, and then we heard that we were not to go on until eleven that night, so we remained in our doolies in the road. I saw Mrs. Polehampton at a short distance from me: she was in distress, for her buggy-horse had fallen down and she could not get on. She came and sat on the ground by my side, and then returned to the house to try and get a doolie, so I was again left alone; the night was so cold, and poor baby could not get to sleep amid such confusion. At eleven p.m. we were ordered to move on as quietly as possible. We had been going on for a long time, when I thought it was remarkably quiet, for I could not hear the tramp of the doolie bearers behind, and I looked out and found I was quite alone in an open plain. I asked the bearers whither they were taking me, when they said they had lost their way. It immediately occurred to me that they were taking me to the sepoys: I sprung out of the doolie, and ran with my child in my arms, screaming across the plain until I heard voices answering. I knew not whether they were friends or foes: but still I ran on and met a party of our own men. "Why," they exclaimed, "how did you come here? we, too, have lost our way, and only know that we are close to the enemy's pickets." "However," they said, "do not get into the doolie again, and we will do our best for you, poor girl." They were so kind, and helped me on, for the sand was very heavy, so that with baby in my arms I could scarcely walk. After walking some distance, we heard a noise amongst the trees, when the men exclaimed, "Oh, God, it is all up with us; we are done for now." They placed me in the middle of them and whispered, "Don't scream, and we may be able to creep on presently." I was paralyzed with terror, and pressed my baby closer to me, while I looked up to God my Father for help. We presently moved quietly on, hearing nothing more, and at three the next morning reached our own camp, where, wearied and exhausted with fatigue and terror I sat upon the ground to indulge in a burst of tears, till Captain Edgell found me and took me into a large tent, where a great number were asleep upon the ground. I had been on my feet with my baby in my arms for upwards of three hours, walking through deep sand and wet grass, and my dress had become so coated with mud, that it was with difficulty I could get on. Here I found Mrs. K., with whom I had started from Secundra Bagh. She had been wondering at my prolonged absence, and now gave me some milk for baby, and a delicious cup of tea, and then we lay down upon the ground and slept till morning.
November 22. – Moved into a small tent with Mrs. K., which we had to ourselves; here we were very comfortable, and every kindness was shown to us.
November 23. – How changed the scene from this day three years ago, when all looked so bright and fair; now I am alone, and there are few in this strange land to care for me: but the God of the widow and the fatherless will not forsake me. We found a number of letters to-day, many from dear Robert, written during our captivity, and many English letters also; but it makes my heart sad to read them. His poor mother does not know that she has lost her son; she still trusts that he has been "shielded in the day of battle." I know how all their loving hearts will feel for me when they shall hear of my sad bereavement. One of our old servants, a Kitmutgar, who had lived with us at Gonda, came to me to-day; he wanted me to take him into my service again. I should like to have done so, but could not turn away the man who was then serving me. Some boxes belonging to dear Robert were brought to me from the Alum Bagh, but nearly everything had been taken from them excepting his uniform and his bible.
November 24. – Left the Dil Koosha Palace in carts which had been provided for us: a rough kind of travelling for poor baby, but he has been accustomed to hardships. The last few days has wrought a wonderful change in him, he looks so much better since he left his prison: but I am so anxious about him, for the only bright ray in the sad future before me is my little boy. We arrived at the Alum Bagh late at night, tired to death by our weary march. I passed the night with baby in the cart.
November 25. – By some accident we were left behind with the baggage this morning, which caused us some alarm, as it was the least carefully protected part of the procession, and we did not reach the encamping ground till four the next morning.
The confusion of the whole march to Cawnpore was perfectly indescribable. Such numbers of wagons, bullocks, and camels, loaded with baggage, that we were constantly stopped on the road, and had to wait sometimes for an hour before we could get on. All this time the heat and dust were suffocating, and we were in constant danger of being attacked by the enemy.
November 28. – Heard heavy firing to-day in the direction of Cawnpore, and had to make a forced march of thirty-eight miles. A most weary and fatiguing day: the camp was pitched within two miles of the river. We did not reach it until three the next morning. I had no tent, and sat on the wet ground until daylight, with my baby in my lap. It was a lovely night; the stars were shining so brightly; but it was bitterly cold: no one came to speak to me. Who was there in all that host of my fellow creatures to care whether I was living or dead? I felt that night as though I was forsaken by God and man. There was only little baby to care for me.
November 30. – Crossed the bridge at Cawnpore in the evening, and were nearly ten hours in reaching the Artillery Barracks. Were fired on by the enemy at the time we were crossing.
December 1. – Moved to the new barracks this morning, the other encamping ground being too much exposed to the enemy's fire. It is terrible being in the midst of war and fighting again. I am living in the guard house with Mrs. Orr, and am glad of such a shelter after the fatigue of the march, and having no tent to go into. Mrs. K. met her husband at Cawnpore, so I was left alone until we reached Allahabad. Here I saw Mr. Gregson, the missionary, who had travelled up the country with my husband. Mr. Tucker, the Commissioner at Benares, had asked him to call upon me.
December 3. – Left Cawnpore with a small escort: we are under the charge of Captain Edgell. I do not know what I should do, if it were not for the kindness of Captain T. Boileau, who looks after me and my cart, keeping it near his own. My bearer is very useful: he takes such care of baby, and on the march runs into the villages to get milk for him. It is such a comfort to be able to get proper food for my darling, and the little fellow is looking so much better. God grant that this my last treasure may be spared to me.
December 5. – I saw Mrs. Polehampton to-day: she was sitting under a tree with Mrs. Barber and Mrs. Gall. She did not know that I had been alone, and felt so very wretched: she thinks baby looks better.
December 7. – Reached Allahabad, where we met with such a hearty welcome that it was almost overpowering. Went with two other ladies to a house in Cantonments. It seemed strange to be in a comfortable house again and to have a room to myself: I could scarcely understand it. I could not realise the feeling of rest and security after all I had passed through. The weather is so lovely that we sit out of doors nearly all day in the garden. The scene around is very pretty, but it brings so vividly before me our dear little bungalow at Gonda that it makes my heart very sad in thinking of the days that are no more. We wander through the deserted houses around, most of which have been burnt to the ground: there are very few in Cantonments still standing. The church still remains, though most of the tablets have been torn off the walls. The scene of desolation which the place presents is very sad: so many happy homes having been utterly destroyed in the past year.
December 25 (Christmas Day). – How they will be thinking of us at home to-day. It is such a sad Christmas: so different to all that have gone before. There is much discussion as to how we are to get down to Calcutta. We have been waiting all this time for a steamer, but the river is so low that the steamers cannot come up to Allahabad, and they are afraid to send us down the road without an escort and the men are wanted higher up the country.
January 2, 1858. – Went into the fort to Captain Innes' quarters, and shared the room with Mrs. Martin: she is so kind to my baby, though he is so restless that I fear he must often disturb her. He is not so well as he was, and I am terribly anxious about him.
January 10. – Left Allahabad in country boats, and joined the steamer at Sirsa. Mrs. Inglis was so kind to me to-day and made me some arrowroot for baby, who is far from well; but I trust the voyage down the river will do him good. Mrs. Polehampton and myself with baby have a cabin together.
January 13. – Arrived at Benares and remained there the whole day. Here I met Dr. Jones, whom I had not seen since we were stationed at Dinapore two years before. He had been with dear Robert at Benares, and told me how ill he had been and how greatly his illness had been increased by anxiety on my account. I here bought some pretty native toys for dear baby, for which this place is famous.
January 14. – Reached Ghazeepore in the morning and went on shore to the opium factory. The natives brought rose water for sale.
January 15. – Arrived at the Boliah Flats: were stuck in the sands all day.
January 19. – Reached Dinapore. Every spot here reminds me of bygone days, when we were stationed at this place for seven months, when everything shone so brightly around me. Here my darling child was born. Saw Mr. Burge, the chaplain, but most of those whom we knew here have returned home. The weather is getting so warm that the heat in the middle of the day is most oppressive. We seem to be very slowly proceeding on our homeward journey, and it will be months before I reach England if I go round the Cape, which I must, for my child's sake, for he is still extremely weak, and he is so precious to me that I could not lose him now.
January 21. – Stuck in the sands all day: this is tiresome work when we are so anxious to get down to Calcutta.
January 22. – Reached Monghyr and saw Dr. Duka, who drove me to his house in the fort, and gave me a letter from Dr. Collins, who wishes me to go to the hills, but I am too anxious to get home to let any invitation, however kind, detain me in India.
January 23. – Arrived at Banghalpore and walked through the station, which is pretty, but looks so deserted.
January 26. – Entered the Sunderbands, where the scenery in many places is very lovely. This is almost the last I shall see of Indian scenery.
January 30. – Reached Calcutta and went to a house in Harrington Street, which had been set apart for the Lucknow refugees. There everything had been provided for our comfort: each of us having a separate bed-room and bath-room; but we take our meals together. I can never feel sufficiently grateful for the universal kindness and sympathy I received during my short stay in Calcutta. The hand of friendship was held out even by strangers, and everything was done to alleviate our sorrow and distress. Most nobly did England respond to the cry of the widow and the orphan.
The Himalaya – Decide to go by the Cape – Letter home – Child very ill – Mrs. Polehampton – Only a week to prepare for Voyage – Bearers' grief at parting – Visit Himalaya – Prepare to sail – Lady Canning – Child very ill – Child dies.
January 31. – Mr. Wylie came to see us: he wishes us very much to return home in the Himalaya, which sails on the 12th; but how we are to prepare in so short a time for such a voyage, I cannot see; it is a tremendous undertaking, to be ready in a week.
February 1. – Commenced preparations for our voyage home, and wrote the following for the next home mail: –
"Calcutta, February 2, 1858.
"My dear Father,
"Your last letters to me have been torturing though not intended to be so, for you were picturing me again united to my beloved husband, after our long and sad separation. Alas! you little knew that worlds divided us.
"I shall soon be proceeding on my journey home, not by the overland as I intended, for I have quite given that up for the sake of my child, who is so extremely delicate that his life is very precarious. I have seen one of the first medical men in Calcutta, and he says if I would save my child I must go round the Cape. Would I not save my child! God knows he is all I have to live for.
"We sail on the 12th of this month by the Himalaya, and our perils will now be those of the deep. I wish that the voyage were over, and that I was safely landed in England, for I dread it very much, though why should I fear the stormy deep? In one way it is almost a mercy my child is so delicate, for he requires such unceasing attention. The effects of that dreadful siege are now being felt by him, and it would grieve you to see the little sufferer; but I trust that the sea voyage will renovate his strength, and that before he reaches England he will be quite a different child. We expect our voyage to be a long one, but do not be anxious for me, God will protect me; I meet with such kindness from every one, that I do not know what it is to want for anything. I am coming home with Mrs. Polehampton, the widow of our chaplain, and the "Florence Nightingale" of Lucknow. She was with me in my heaviest sorrow, and is a bright example for me; her patient submission to the will of God, and her holy triumph in her husband's happy death, were something strange to witness; I would that I could be like her. Her principal reason for going in the Himalaya is that she may be with the sick and wounded who are returning home in that vessel.
"We have had but one week to prepare for our voyage, and in Calcutta you cannot manage this as expeditiously as in England. My poor bearer is in great distress at the idea of being parted from the baby, to whom he has been a good and faithful servant."
February 4. – Went to see the Himalaya, she is a beautiful vessel and the cabins look so comfortable. I showed baby where he would have to live for four months. Dear little fellow: he looks so pretty in all the new clothes which grandmamma has sent him out from England.
February 8. – We have begun to pack up for the voyage. Mrs. Fayrer and Mrs. Inglis called. They were grieved to see my little darling looking so unwell: he seems very weak, but I take him out every evening for a drive, and he is so quiet I do not think he is in pain.
February 9. – We are to sail to-morrow and are almost ready, but there is so much to be done at the last, and so many kind friends to see to bid farewell to. Lady Canning came to see us all to-day.
February 10. – We had sent all our things on board, and then heard that we were not to sail until the 12th. I went on board in the evening with baby.
February 11. – My dear child seemed so weak this morning, and I could not get him to take any food. Mrs. Polehampton told me that Dr. Goodeve thought my baby very ill. I knew what she meant: but I cannot spare him, and I do not think God will take away my little lamb when I have nothing else left. He slept nearly all day and was so quiet: he did not appear to be suffering. In the evening I laid him on the bed and he seemed to be sleeping comfortably. At one a.m. he began to get restless, but when I spoke to him he looked up and smiled; then I walked about with him till he began to struggle, and I was frightened and called Mrs. Polehampton. She told me to lay him in my lap: he was gasping for breath, when I turned away my head, for I could not see my child die. She said, "Look, how bright his eyes are growing!" and "now his eyes grew bright and brighter still, too bright for ours to look upon. – suffused with many tears and closed without a cloud," and so "the Lord called the child." Mrs. Polehampton took him in her arms, and when he was dressed in his little night dress and laid upon the bed, he looked so perfectly happy, that for him I could not mourn, and of myself I dared not think. "So He giveth His beloved sleep." When the morning came, we gathered some orange blossoms and placed them round him, who was "no longer babe but angel;" and when his little coffin came we laid him in it, there to sleep until the morning of the resurrection. During the day, I had his likeness taken, as he lay in the peaceful slumber of death, his little hand enclosing a sweet white rosebud and a lock of his mother's hair; and as I sat beside him and gazed upon his happy countenance, I could not weep for my little lamb, safely in-gathered into that fold where he "shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more." For two short years had he been mine, the object of unceasing care, and then he closed his eyes for ever on this weary world of sin and sorrow.
At 5 p.m., Dr. Fayrer came and fastened down the lid, when I had given him his last kiss, and bidden him "Good night" for evermore, though not good night to baby; for "there shall be no night there." We carried him in the mourning coach to the cemetery, where many met us, who showed by their silent sympathy that they had learned to weep with those who wept. Captain Boileau and Dr. Fayrer carried the little coffin to the grave. And now, farewell, my own loved little darling, until we meet in heaven: you have soon passed the waves of this troublesome world, and are safe
"In thy Father's sheltered home, |
Where I know that sorrow cannot come."
Now I could realise that he was gone from me for evermore, when I went back and found no joyous baby welcome, no little arms to clasp my neck; but there lay the dress he last had worn, the little hat and shoes, and the toys about the room; but where was baby? "All Thy waves and Thy storms have gone over me."
February 12. – Sailed from Calcutta and bade farewell to the land where all I best loved had found a resting place. "And now, Lord, what is my hope? Truly my hope is even in Thee."
Letters of Dr. Bartrum after his escape from Gonda – Jane 12 – Join Secrora officers – Sepoys well inclined, though mutinous – Rajah of Balrumpore – June 26 – Ghazeepore – Hardships of flight – Goruckpore – Charge of ladies – Slaughter of officers at Fyzabad – Azimghur – Destruction of station – Venables – July 18 – Havelock – Advance on Cawnpore – News from Lucknow – The Goorkhas – Fever – Unfit for duty – Benares – Anxiety – General Lloyd at Dinapore.
The following letters were written by my husband after he left Gonda, but were not received till after I had left Lucknow, and was on my way down to Calcutta: –
"Bulrampore, June 12, 1857.
"My dearest K.,
"I trust this will find you well and in safety. We left Gonda yesterday morning, having made up our minds the day before to leave, the tone of the sepoys and native officers being so changed that we considered our lives in great danger. In the morning, the Secrora officers who had escaped arrived at Gonda. We travelled all day, although the heat was very great, and arrived here at night, just before dusk. The sepoys at the last seemed very well inclined, many accompanying us on our way, shedding tears; the native officers made their salaams, but none desired us to stay; indeed the havildar major came to us at dawn and showed us a letter just received from Secrora, desiring the regiment to stop the officers and treasury; so this was our only chance: the sentries were watching us, and their manner warned us that we should not be safe in remaining. We left for the protection of the Rajah of Bulrampore, thirty miles distant, without anything but our horses and the clothes on our hacks. In a day or so, we start most probably for Goruckpore to a friendly Rajah there: we are uncertain of anything further, but shall act as circumstances direct; though so far safe, we do not feel at all secure; a short distance from here, five Europeans have been killed by a Jemindar and his people, and there is daily chance of a disturbance at Goruckpore; but I am now dead to a sense of danger, as I expected to be killed the last night we were at Gonda.... I have received no news of your safety; but I trust to God you are so, and also the dear little one. Let us be very thankful to our Almighty Father for having so far spared us.
"Ever your attached Husband."
"Ghazeepore, June 26, 1857.
"My dearest K.,
"I wrote to you from the other side of Goruckpore, and also on two other occasions, in the hope that one of the number would reach you and relieve you from anxiety regarding my fate. We have all arrived here in safety, not having been molested on the road in the least. We have been marching, or rather flying, ever since the 11th, going thirty or forty miles a day. We start to Benares to-night, and hope to reach the day after to-morrow. I trust you have heard of our safety by some means. I hope so, for my principal anxiety has been that you should not be in any alarm on my account. We have stayed at different places, and marched as accounts of the state of the country led us to think the safest route. Until we arrived at Goruckpore, we had to undergo all kinds of hardships in the way of food and rest, and we always travelled at night on account of the heat of the day: none have really suffered, though one or two shewed symptoms of giving way under it: were I not a great deal stronger than when I left England, I could not have stood it.... All our property is lost, I did not save a thing; but I am thankful to God that we have been so far spared to each other. Oh! dearest K., I do so long to see you, and baby, my own dear little boy; but whatever may take place, keep up your spirits, it will not be long before all things are settled.
"We were in Goruckpore on the 19th, and took up from there the ladies of the station; by the kindness of the people we were supplied with wearing apparel, &c. We travelled by torchlight in dreadful confusion: a tremendous cavalcade was formed, with an escort of Sowars and armed men belonging to the Rajah of Bansee. Seventeen of the Fyzabad officers were slaughtered on the river by the 17th regiment: a serjeant, the only survivor, has joined our party. Mrs. Mill, the wife of Captain Mill, commanding the artillery of Fyzabad, was last heard of on this side the river begging for food from village to village, surely she cannot escape death. Is it not a mercy that we have been saved from so dreadful a fate?
"On the 23rd we reached Azimghur, a pretty civil station: it has been plundered, the houses burnt and destroyed in such a manner that could you see it you would think it the work of demons rather than men. The sepoys were content to plunder the Treasury, but the villagers around destroyed the furniture and broke whatever was useless to themselves, dismantling the whole place even to the public gardens, baths, &c. The prison was opened, admitting to the world about 800 characters of infamy. An indigo planter whose property in the neighbourhood has suffered in the same degree, remained concealed until assistance arrived, and is now reclaiming the district from disorder so far as he can. He goes out to administer retribution in burning villages, and rescuing people and property: his name is Venables, and he deserves the highest praise. So timid are these infamous scoundrels that having conducted themselves as fiends when they had no one to oppose them, they now fly in all directions from a small hand. We march to-night on our route to Benares: if we meet with opposition I hope we shall be able to defend the ladies and children. Our native escort we look upon as useless, composed of nothing but sepoys, who may be as atrocious fiends as those we have fled from. I look forward to soon marching up the country again by Cawnpore to Lucknow. It now threatens rain, very fortunate has it been for us that it has not come on before, for our bed has been always on the ground, usually at the foot of a tree, sometimes on the bank of the river which we were about to ford: we have passed the Ruptee and Goghra, now the Goomtee remains, and then we meet the Ganges.
"I am so disturbed at thinking of the straits you and dear baby must be put to for clothes. I look upon all at Gonda as lost; but I am only too thankful that we have been so far spared to each other, and that we may soon meet is my most earnest hope.
"Your ever attached Husband."
"Benares, July 18, 1857.
"My dearest K.,
"This morning we have received news of General Havelock's having arrived at Cawnpore on his way to Lucknow, so I thought that now there might be some chance of a letter reaching you. I hope that the Lord has preserved you and our little one in all safety and health. We have news from Lucknow of 30th June, which told us of an unsuccessful sally on the part of the English. I cannot tell you the dreadful anxiety it caused me. I do trust that you and the little baby are well and strong, and that the hardships you must have undergone have not been too much for you. What dreadful times these are! I don't know how things are to end, or when they are to come right: may God quickly give us success against our enemies.... I have written to you several letters, but fear none have reached you; my last was from Azimgurh. On the road to Ghazeepore, a European soldier, a Colonel and his wife, joined us; they had escaped from Fyzabad, and had passed through the greatest horrors. The fatigues and dangers undergone by many poor ladies in escaping from the blood-thirsty villains of sepoys is perfectly heart-rending to hear of, so horrible has it in many instances been: very thankful am I that we have been spared the sufferings that have fallen to the lot of so many others. I have not received a letter from any one, for I don't know how long, as of course they have been lost. I suppose you have not heard the bad news of Dr. Spilsbury's death: I know what your grief will be at losing such a friend. I have been at Benares some time. The officers with whom I was have returned to Goruckpore to join the Goorkhas from Nepaul, who are coming down to hold some districts for us. I had volunteered to accompany them; but on the way from Goruckpore here, I caught a fever, and on recovering from this, from accompanying a party into the district against some rebels, I took fever again; and bad news coming from Lucknow, anxiety and illness, made me so weak, that I was not fit for anything. In a few days I shall be employed again, either in going to Calcutta to bring up European troops, or to Allahabad to assist there. I don't care where I am sent to so that I am employed; being without books, I have nothing whatever to do. Unfortunately there will soon be large hospitals; the fatigues of the troops, though endured for a time while the excitement lasts, will be followed by a reaction attended with a frightful mortality."
"Benares, August 9th, 1857.
"My dearest K.,
"I trust to God that He has hitherto preserved you from all harm, and that He still keeps for us our little child. For my sake bear up against all the trials that await you. Trust that however hard they may be, everything is ordered for our good; cheer up then, dearest K., until we can meet again, which I hope may be soon. I know how hard must have been the sorrows, anxieties, and alarms which you have had to bear. You do not know how anxious I have been about you. The daily rumours, the false reports, and the news we have received have been quite torturing. For four days we have received no intelligence respecting Lucknow, though each day we have been looking for it. Could I bear all your trials a thousand times to save you, I should be happy. General Lloyd, at Dinapore, has allowed the three native regiments to leave the station without opposing them: they are about forty miles from here, but have been defeated by a small force that was sent against them. If this had not occurred you would have been relieved ere this; they have been using the force which should have joined and assisted General Havelock in your rescue. We do not know for how long you have provisions; the safety of you all is discussed amongst us, I cannot tell you with how much anxiety on my part. May the Lord spare you all in his mercy: but you know how, both in security and danger, to look to Him who alone can be our help in time of need. After the anxieties, the fearful alarms, and the hardships you have undergone, I fear your health will be much shaken; but do not despond. If God has spared us to each other, we must be content; everything else is as nothing. May He give you strength to bear any more trials which may await you: and may He pour every blessing upon you and our dear child until we meet, is the prayer of
"Your attached husband."
Dr. Bartrum's Letters continued – Camp near Allahabad – General Outram and reinforcements – Attached to Artillery under Major Eyre – Lucknow able to hold out – Midnight march by moonlight – Village of rebels – Boats destroyed – The weather – Destroy Village – Prisoners shot – Cawnpore Troops cross the river – Reconnoitring party – Fighting – Last entry in Diary.
"Camp between Allahabad and Cawnpore, Sep. 7.
"My dear Mother,
"The address tells you that I have been ordered from Allahabad to Cawnpore; I now only think of getting with all haste into Lucknow. The reinforcements which were on the river with General Outram have joined. I am attached to a battery of Artillery under Major Eyre, with which I shall probably serve for some time. The best news of Lucknow has been received, and that they are able to hold out for some time longer; so much has this news relieved us, that instead of making forced marches to Cawnpore, we are to do it leisurely: with our detachment thereto 700 men, and General Outram is in the rear with a larger number. We expect to have some trouble in crossing the river at Cawnpore, and indeed on the whole route thence into Lucknow: we usually start at midnight, and the nights being moonlight the effect is very striking of artillery rumbling along the ground, the din being diversified by brass bands, fifes and drums.
"September 11 – At day-break we came to a village where rebels were posted. A party of infantry and cavalry was sent in pursuit of them; we marched day and night and came up with them just as they had taken to their boats to escape from us; the boats and their occupants were destroyed without any serious loss on our side: one boat blew up after it had been boarded by us, and several men with camp followers were severely burnt; we returned the same night and joined General Outram and Queen's 90th camp. The weather is wet, and the heat oppressive, but there is not much sickness. Yesterday I accompanied another party to attack a rebel village: the inhabitants had fled, the place was destroyed, and prisoners executed; all prisoners now are deliberately shot or hung, indeed the irritation of officers and men is so great that any other course would be out of the question. At first I loathed the idea, but now I have become so callous to it, that I feel a pleasure in seeing those creatures revenged upon. By this day week, or at the latest in ten days, we expect to be in Lucknow; no doubt is entertained of success: we shall cross the Ganges 2,700 strong, with eighteen guns and, if necessary, heavy artillery; should we not be successful, few of us will be heard of more; but that I do not think of, but only of the pleasure of entering the city and rescuing my beloved wife and child, with her companions from their dangers and privations. I trust that everything may be as I could wish, but I dread to think what may have happened, their hardships and misery must have been extreme, and it will be almost with fear and trembling that I shall enter Lucknow. God grant that they may all have been preserved in safety.
"September 18. – Our troops are crossing the river at Cawnpore. The Sikhs, when across, were fired upon, and there has been a desultory firing kept up all day. – A partial eclipse of the sun for half-an-hour.
"September 21. – Went with a reconnoitring party to within a short distance of the enemy's battery.
"September 24. – Slept at night in a doolie; Firing from early in the morning from guns in the woods, answered by our heavy guns. They threw shot across the camp and into the garden; a halt was ordered, and heavy guns to silence their fire. – Several 98th men killed, also one officer and several men of the 90th. Our battery was engaged the whole day, but no one was wounded."
This is the last entry in the diary: at ten o'clock on the morning of the 26th "he had fought the good fight, he had finished his course."
Letter of Medical Officer – Sept 21, first action; heavy rain – Bivouac – Beat Sepoys – Encamp in the Alumbagh – Rear attacked – Commence action – Furious cannonade – Loop-holed walls of gardens – The bridge – Doolie bearers killed – Gain large Building – Care of all the wounded – Night of horror – Morning – Enemy get range of Building – Cut off from main-body – Cross river – Palanquin bearers desert the wounded – Gain small house – House set on fire – Break through wall – Chatty of water – Firing outside – Enfield Rifles – Relief.
Letter of a Medical Officer of H.M.'s 90th.
"Lucknow, Oct. 24, 1857.
"Our first action with the rebels was on September 21. – For two days we pursued them, and such days! one even down-pour of rain, with only two hours' intermission out of forty-eight; every one was soaked through in two minutes: the water poured over us. We made our sixteen miles one day, with no food but what a good creature of a Sikh gave me. At our bivouac (we had no tents) we crouched in the rain all night. Next day rain, if possible, heavier; we marched, however, over a good road, and got on well; no food till very late that night. Next day, 23rd, was intensely hot; the men could hardly march. In the afternoon, after passing a deserted village, we suddenly came in sight of the rebel army about half a mile off. Their guns immediately opened on us. The action now became general, and we soon sent the sepoys howling off, and captured their position. We encamped on the scene of action at Alumbagh. During that miserable night we again had rain in torrents. Next morning we retired out of range. Our rear-guard and baggage were attacked: that attack was repulsed, but fifteen of the 90th were killed or badly wounded, amongst the former poor Nunn, a thorough-going soldier; he rallied his men, when suddenly attacked, remained in rear to encourage them, was surrounded by the enemy's cavalry and cut to pieces. Late that evening the orders came out stating that the wounded were to be left at Alumbagh, and the army in the morning should be marched on to Lucknow. We marched about eight next morning, and at a quarter of a mile from our camp were fairly in action. The shot passed over us in a perpetual hum or scream. Luckily they were mostly high; as it was, no human beings could live in it and advance, so the column lay down till the artillery had silenced them, and we then got amongst some gardens with the walls loop-holed. We were here shot down like so many sheep, till one man broke through the wall. On every side of me men were falling. We had now overcome the first opposition, and in a little time we stormed the bridge over the canal, and found ourselves at the entrance to Lucknow. We skirted the suburbs for five miles, shooting great numbers of the insurgents, and losing many of our own men. By this time it was two o'clock, and we had arrived at about a mile from the Residency. Now commenced the hardest part. The enemy had possession of a bridge which we had to cross. On this bridge was a battery of three guns, and there were at different points three other batteries all bearing upon us. The houses, gardens and buildings all about us were full of the enemy, and we were in such a fire! I was with the wounded of the 90th, about 300 yards from the bridge-battery. They fired a round of grape at us from one gun, and killed eight of my doolie-bearers. Of course many wounded soldiers were killed in the palanquins. All around me people were falling, and the shot tearing huge branches off trees, throwing mud up in our faces. About four in the afternoon the 90th, now become the rear-guard, got into comparative safety in a large building. There we passed the night, and a night of great horror it was, for the wounded of nearly all regiments were here. Remember our whole force was but 3,000: and we had at the very lowest calculation opposed to us 40,000 men fighting behind loop-holed walls, with great numbers of guns; whilst we were in the streets of a very large town, and were being shot down by unseen enemies. I consider our achievement that day the rashest in history, at the same time the most wonderful. At daybreak the enemy got our range in the building, and kept pouring their shot and shell into us, killing numbers. One poor fellow, an assistant-surgeon of the artillery, was anxious for me to assist him in an operation. I was on my way with him to do it, the shots were whistling all about us, and I said, "'Well, Bartrum, I wish I could see my way out of this!'" "'Oh,' "he said, "'there is no danger whatever:'" next minute he was shot dead beside me; two minutes before he had been speaking of the pleasure he expected in rejoining his wife and child at Lucknow.
"The enemy were pressing close, and kept up a storm of shot, shell, and musketry, on us. We were cut off from the main body of the army by about a mile, and they could not help us, as they themselves were fighting hard. At last the colonel came to me, and told me that his arrangements were perfected, he would give me a guard of 150 men, and with them I was to get the wounded into the entrenched camp as best I could. I got the wounded ready in a string, and after a long breath I left the building. For 200 yards the enemy did us no harm; but here we had to cross a deepish river; it took me nearly up to my chest, and such a fire we got into here! Some of the wounded were drowned, some killed, but most got across, and on we went to a street where we were promised comparative safety: our escort preceded us fighting all the way, but they really had no chance, they were shot down right and left. When I reached the entrance of the street I found a number of them lying dead and most of the others had rushed on for their lives. On looking round I found that the palanquin bearers were being killed from the walls, and the remainder flung down the wounded; no menace or entreaty could prevail on them to lift them up again. I tried to get a few wounded together, but by this time the sepoys had gathered round us on every housetop, and had nothing to do but bring us down at their leisure. All hope seemed gone, but as a last resource I ran with four others into a small one-storied house, three rooms on a floor, all doors and windows. Other fugitives now joined us – soldiers from the escort who had escaped, and two badly wounded officers. The sepoys now commenced yelling fearfully: they were not more than five yards off, round the corner and sheltered from our fire. At this time we expected instant death: it seemed impossible that ten men could resist a thousand, who were firing a fearful hail of shot through the windows. Three of our number inside were struck down wounded, and this diminished our fire. The sepoys all this time were massacreing our wounded men: perhaps they killed forty by firing volleys at the palanquins. The rebels now gave up the attempt to storm us, but crept up to the windows and fired in upon us, and so we had to lie down on the ground for a time, and let them fire over us. There was no door to the doorway, so we made a barricade of sand bags by digging the floor with bayonets, and using the dead sepoys' clothes to hold the sand. We also piled up the dead so as to obstruct men rushing on us. My duties as the only unwounded officer were to direct and encourage the men, as a surgeon to dress the wounded, as a man to use a rifle belonging to a wounded man when he fell. After a while we saw that the enemy were tired of rushing on us, as we had killed twenty of them and wounded many more. We now told off one man to fire from each window and three from the door. My post was at a window: I had my revolver, but only five shots left in it: I had no second, and worst of all, no fresh charges. I must tell you that an eastern window means a lattice work; at this I kept watch. After a time a sepoy crept up very cautiously to fire as usual through the window, quite unconscious that at this time a Feringhee had him covered with a revolver. When he got about three yards from me I shot him dead, and another who was coming up was shot by one of the men. For nearly an hour now they were very quiet, only firing at a distance. All at once we heard in the street a dull rumbling noise, which froze me to the very heart. I jumped up, and said, "Now, men; now, or never; let us rush out into the open air, and not be killed like rats in a hole. They are bringing a gun on us!" The men were ready, but we now saw that it was not a gun, but something on wheels with a planking in front too thick for our shot to enter. They brought it to the very window I was firing at: I could touch it, but my shots were useless. To shorten my story: after about half-an-hour they set the house in flames, and we were enabled to escape by bursting through into the second room, which opened into a large square, where we found a street with large doorways at intervals; into this we got, carrying our wounded, who, strange to say, were the only ones hurt. Three of them were mortally wounded whilst we were carrying them; we sound men did not get a scratch. It was a complete surprise to the enemy; they expected us by the door and not the way we came: so the pleasure of shooting us as we ran from the burning house was denied to them. We thought, up to this time that the general would never leave us without succour, but now we thought that the sepoys had quite hemmed in our army. Imagine our horror when we found that the street we were in was loop-holed everywhere, and the sepoys came creeping up now to the loopholes, firing in suddenly and off again. We now put a man at every loop-hole as far as they could go, even wounded were put to watch, and this soon checked the bold, brave sepoy, for whom one British soldier is an object of dread. We soon had a worse alarm, the sepoys got on the roof, bored holes through it, and fired down upon us. Nothing more wonderful in the way of narrow escapes was ever seen. About fifty yards off was a mosque, with no one in it, as I found by creeping on all fours into it; but before we could get the wounded out we were discovered. We now ran back to the shed; however we had in the interval secured a chatty of excellent water, belonging to the sepoys, and what a prize it was: the wounded were dying of thirst, and we who had been biting cartridges all day, were just as bad; it gave us one good draught all round, and after it we felt twice the men we did before. Being a long shed, we had a great deal to defend, but luckily the sepoys found out that if they could fire through the roof, so could we, with the advantage of knowing exactly where they were by the noise of their feet: so they kept off the roof. Including wounded, there were nine men fit for sentry, seven men fit to fight, and of these six were unhurt, including myself. It was agreed that if the sepoys forced the street, we should rush out and die outside. By this time all our wounded were in their possession, and they were put to death with horrible tortures, actually before our faces, some were burnt alive in their palanquins; the shrieks of these men chilled one's blood. The terrors of that awful night cannot be described; raging thirst, fierce rage against those, who as we thought, had left us to perish, uncertainty as to where the sepoys would next attack us: add to this, the exhaustion produced by want of food, heat and anxiety. I now proposed to our men to fight our way back to the rearguard, or forward to the entrenched camp; but there were only two who would go, and so I refused to do so, as we could not desert eight wounded men; still I tried to persuade all to make the trial, some one might escape, as it was no one could. Day broke soon after, and we had all fallen into perfect apathy, our nerves so highly strung for twenty-four hours, seemed now to have gone quite the other way. Suddenly a few shots were fired outside, then more; then we heard the sharp crack of our own Enfield rifles. Ryan, who was standing sentry, now shouted, "Oh boys! them's our own chaps." Still we were uncertain, till presently we heard a regular rattling volley, such as no sepoy could give; Oh! how our hearts jumped into our mouths then. Up we got now; I said, "Now cheer together." Our people outside heard us, and sent a cheer back. We replied like madmen, and shouted to keep off our side. We also fired through all the loop-holes at the sepoys, to keep them from firing at our men advancing. In five minutes we were all rescued and in the midst of our own people.
The following is an Extract from a local Paper at the time of the news of Dr. Bartrum's death reaching England: –
"Each successive mail since the commencement of the Indian outbreak has brought tidings of woe to many families in England; and perhaps in few towns has been felt so sad an interest in the fate of relatives or friends as our own city. By the last mail we regret to hear tidings of the death of Mr. R. H. Bartrum, surgeon, H.E.I.C.S., and member of a well-known and highly respected family in Bath. At the outbreak of the revolt, Mr. Bartrum was in the midst of the disturbed districts, and with many others sent his wife and child to Lucknow for safety. Soon after, Lucknow was invested by the rebels, and Mr. Bartrum never again saw his wife or child, and till a short time since, was unaware whether they had survived the distress and disease incidental to their enforced captivity. Mr. Bartrum, after arduous services at Allahabad and elsewhere, joined the forces of Sir Henry Havelock as a volunteer on his advance to the relief of Lucknow, anxious to be a participator in the efforts to release those near and dear to him. The privations endured by the heroic band are well known, but by the inscrutable decrees of the Almighty, poor Mr. Bartrum was not permitted to share in the joy of the deliverers, for he was shot dead just as he had gained the gates of the Residency of Lucknow, where his wife was awaiting him, and the anxious suspense of many months, momentarily enlivened by the joy of again meeting her beloved husband, was suddenly changed into the grief and despair of a widow. Mr. Bartrum was educated at our Grammar School, and after studying at Guy's Hospital, obtained a high position in the M. B. examination of the University of London. Soon afterwards, he gained an Indian appointment offered to his Hospital for competition. One who knew him well, says of him, 'He was a noble fellow; from his earliest youth conspicuous for his love of truth and dauntless courage. In his maturer years he was distinguished for his manly bearing and generous spirit. He was a dutiful son, a tender father, husband, and brother; and, while always one of the highest principle, by the late trials he had experienced and the scenes he had witnessed, he was led more and more to feel the vanity of all human things. Post nubes astra. Under such heavy affliction, there is only one source of comfort to his sorrowing relatives, but we may be permitted to express our sincere condolence with them under this dispensation of the Almighty."
HAYWARD AND PAINE, PRINTERS, GREEN STREET, BATH.
1 The seventeen different houses and buildings within the walls were known, daring the siege, as different garrisons.