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46 THE NECESSITY OF SUCH A STEP AVERTED.
one solid mass,” though he still admitted that, at best, it was but a doubtful chance.
Providentially the extremity never arose. Changes already alluded to were taking place in camp, and events to be described in the next chapter were occurring in the Punjab, which combined to avert it.
General Wilson wrote thus to Mr Colvin on the last day of July :—
“MY DEAR SIR,--It is my firm determination to hold my present position, and to resist any attack to the last. The enemy are very numerous, and may possibly break through our intrenchments and overwhelm us, but the force will die at their post. Luckily the enemy have no head and no method, and we hear dissensions are breaking out among them. Reinforcements are coming up under Nicholson. If we can hold on till they arrive, we shall be secure. I am making
every possible arrangement to secure the safe defence of our position.”
The siege still held on, and Peshawur remained untouched.
* Chief Commissioner's Punjab Mutiny Report, par. 39.
THE PUNJAB-FAVOURABLE APPEARANCE VERY DECEPTIVE-MANY POOR BEAH REGIMENTS STILL ARMED–COLUMN MOWING UP FROM JULLUNDHUR TO UMRITSUR—58TH DISARMED ATRAWUL PINDEE —A DAY AT JHELUM-THE SEALKOTE OUTBREAK–NICHOLSON. DISARMS THE 59TH AT UMRITSUR AND THE WING OF THE 9TH CAVALRY, AND CATCHES THE SEALKOTE MUTINEERS AT TRIMMOo GHAT—KANGRA, THE 4TH N. I. GIVE UP THEIR ARMS-FEROZEPORE, THE 10TH IRREGULAR CAVALRY DEPRIVED OF THEIR HORSES-THE COLUMN MOVES DOWN AGAIN.
IN the Punjab, as before Delhi, there was the same deceptive appearance of improvement. All seemed favourable. That little slip of printed paper, the official bulletin, which day by day announced the state of the body politic, and was circulated through the Punjab, brought each day the welcome announcement “The Punjab perfectly quiet”—“All well in the Punjab.” And so far it told truly. But it told only half the truth ; and perhaps less. The Punjab was quiet; but from the Indus to the Sutlej were mines of treason, ready charged, which might explode at any moment. It was with little confidence or comfort that Sir John Lawrence, and those admitted to his counsels, saw five regiments of native infantry and two of cavalry
48 SOME POORBEAH REGIMENTS STILL ARMED.
scattered over the Punjab, still retaining their arms, with in reality only two European regiments and a few guns available to overawe or punish them.* At Rawul Pindee were the 58th N.I., at Jhelum the 14th N. I., at Sealkote the 46th N. I., with a wing of the 9th Light Cavalry, and the other wing in the Moveable Column ; while the 59th N. I. were at Umritsur, the 4th N. I. at Kangra and Noorpoor, the 2d Irregular Cavalry at Goordaspore, all armed. Against these were only H. M. 24th Foot at Rawul Pindee, with a battery, and H. M. 52d L. I. with the Column, with a troop and a battery, besides a few newly-raised Punjab levies. Thus it was clear that the train of treason fired at any point, the whole would be in a blaze; and little could be done towards extinguishing it. Such was the real state of the Punjab at the end of June. Of all these native corps the 14th had always been regarded with the greatest suspicion and anxiety;f and unfortunately their position, the farthest up except the 58th, added to the danger. For the ball of rebellion once set rolling here, what was there to stop * H.M. 81st at Lahore are, of course, not included, as they were tied down watching the disarmed corps at that station. The troops at Peshawur, too, are left out, as having their hands full. It may here be noticed that, from their separate position and duties, the latter are never included in any general review of the European force in the Punjab, but are treated of separately. + When the author was leaving Rawul Pindee, in the middle of May, to join the Moveable Column, he was told by one in all the state secrets, “If you get safely through Jhelum, you are all right.” The hint was taken, and the author, after a delightful day in the camp of the 4th (Rothney's) Sikhs, took advantage of the wing of the 17th Irregulars,
then pushing on to join the Column, to enter Jhelum, with his friend Captain P. Hockin, at the head of that corps.
DISARMING THE 14TH AND 58TH N. I. RESOLVED ON. 49
it 2 At Jhelum itself there was not a European soldier, nor at Sealkote, or Kangra, or Goordaspore. It would have rolled on, gathering force as it came, and carrying all along with it. Sir John Lawrence had heard (and his secret-intelligence department was perfect) that the spirit of mutiny was becoming very active in this corps. So it was resolved, in the Rawul Pindee councils, to avert, if possible, the impending danger by disarming them, and also the 58th at Rawul Pindee, of whom, despite the loud protestations of their commandant, Colonel Barstow, no very favourable opinion was entertained. The first step was to weaken the traitors of the 14th by bringing up two companies to Rawul Pindee on some detachment duty; the next was to arrange for a simultaneous disarming of the two regiments at the two stations. Another failure, like that a month before at Jullundhur, and the Punjab would be shaken to its centre, perhaps lost after all. In former chapters the narrative of events has of necessity been somewhat disconnected. Each station having in most cases been compelled to act independently of its neighbour, the reader has been frequently carried from one station to another without any connecting links between the different points of action. But the case is now different. The events about to be recorded all formed parts of one plan, or rather were a series of contingencies, hanging one upon the other, which were all taken into account and provided for by the one controlling head. To understand them aright the reader must have a WOL. II. D
50 THE MOVEABLE COLUMN MOVES UP.
good map of the Punjab before him. He must remem- . ber that we left the Moveable Column at Philour, nearly 200 miles from Rawul Pindee. At the end of June a hint had come down from Sir John Lawrence to Nicholson to move the Column upwards. He started on the 28th, taking with him the two corps, the 33d N. I. and 35th L. I., disarmed by that master-stroke at Philour. At Jullundhur he left the 33d under the eye of the 21st Punjab Infantry, a new corps just raised there by Captain Tulloh, and some Kuppoorthulla men; and taking the 35th L. I. across the Beas, he dropped them at Jundhiala, one march from Umritsur, and then brought the Column on to Umritsur. Bitter were the regrets and unsparing the censures which this move called forth in the Column. The hope of “Delhi,” which had cheered them on a few days before, now disappeared as they set their faces once more upwards. The move was simply incomprehensible: its object no one could imagine, and therefore every one condemned it. But a few days sufficed to show its object and to prove its wisdom. In the meanwhile a corresponding move was being made from above. On the morning of the 1st of July a little force, consisting of three companies of H. M. 24th (260 strong) under Lieutenant-Colonel Ellice, 3 horse-artillery guns under Captain Cookes, and 150 of Miller's Police Battalion, were proceeding downwards from Rawul Pindee with sealed orders. On the 3d the Mooltanee levies under Lieutenant Lind (already mentioned as being at Nowshera when