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THE INDIAN MUTINY


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Post #41 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 12:29 AM

Harry,

 

It's a long time since I read about the Indian Munity and you have got me in the mood to revisit that era.

 

Regards

Mark

 

Mark, you could do a lot worse than revisit the era in this form....

 

51u3hgSXHTL._SX373_BO1204203200_.jpg 51EOYm-nL0L._SX326_BO1204203200_.jpg

 

http://www.amazon.co...YS6CMFY96NXDQKH

 

Of all the Flashman books Fraser wrote, this one is definitely in the "darkest" style. It's probably got the least amount of "burst-out-laughing" moments.

It's entirely possible that Fraser found it difficult and was affected by the subject matter -- and I really believe this was reflected in the book itself.

As always with Fraser's eponymous anti-hero, it's deeply rooted in historical fact.

 

   From the Back Cover

 

THE FLASHMAN PAPERS 1856–1858
VOLUME FIVE

What caused the Indian Mutiny? The greased cartridge, religious fanaticism, political blundering, yes – but one hitherto unsuspected factor is now revealed in the furtive figure which fled across the Indian scene in 1857 with such frantic haste: Flashman.

For Flashman, plumbing new depths of anxious knavery in his role as secret agent extraordinary, saw far more of the great Mutiny than he wanted to. How he survived his adventures and inevitable flights from Thugs and Tsarist agents, Eastern beauties and Cabinet ministers and kept his skin intact is a mystery as remarkable as 'The Flashman Papers' themselves. Their latest chapter sees him passing through his most harrowing ordeal to his supreme triumph, with Courage, Duty and Honour toiling dispiritedly in his wake.



Post #42 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 02:20 AM

Just a further comment about Flashman and the Great Game, and it comes from one of the reviewers on Amazon;

 

"this ranks as one of the most powerful anti-war novels I've ever read".

 

Personally speaking, I couldn't agree more.

 

I sometimes wonder if we on this forum, including myself, occasionally loose sight of the fact that what we depict in our dioramas, vignettes, shelf-displays, and so on, actually represent human suffering at an almost unbelievable level -- one which hopefully the vast majority of us will never experience.

 

Of course, we also depict the Courage, Duty and Honor that Fraser's immortal literary creation rejects in such entertaining fashion.  

Perhaps that's one reason why I continue to be attracted to this hobby.

 

(Nice speech....or what?)



Post #43 Mark IV

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 02:53 AM

Harry,

 

Thanks mate those along with your Burma books are on my list.

 

Any good suggestions for Crimea ?

 

Regards

Mark



Post #44 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 03:36 AM

Harry,

 

Thanks mate those along with your Burma books are on my list.

 

Any good suggestions for Crimea ?

 

Regards

Mark

 

Mark,

I don't have too many books that deal solely with the Crimean War. This looks interesting though and I've added it to my own reading list;

 

51pSxmswRXL._SX329_BO1204203200_.jpg

 

Following is from the Amazon description (although they missed out the Kingdom of Sardinia which was also involved on the Allied side);

 

In the winter of 1854, Britain, France, and Turkey, with Europe-wide support, invaded Russia and besieged the fortress of Sebastopol in the Crimea. It was the most destructive conflict of the century, with total fatalities comparable to those of the American Civil War. Hugh Small, whose biography of Florence Nightingale first exposed the truth about her wartime hospital, now shows how the history of the Crimean War was manipulated to conceal Britain’s – and Europe’s – failure. 
Only since the collapse of the Soviet Union has it become clear how much was at stake in the Crimea. The failure of Britain’s politicians to control their generals led to the collapse of the peacekeeping arrangements of the ‘Concert of Europe’ – a sort of early UN Security Council. Russian expansion continued unchecked, leading to the divisions seen today in the Ukraine and the Caucasus. 
Small is equally revealing about the battles. His carefully-researched account of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade overturns the standard account that it was a blunder by senior officers. It was the ordinary cavalrymen who insisted on it – as the Commander-in-Chief admitted in Parliament at the time.

 

For a good overview of Victoria's Little Wars at the "Height of Empire", I can recommend Saul David's splendid effort which is very readable;

 

51TdWPftQ6L._SX323_BO1204203200_.jpg

 

In the early part of Queen Victoria's reign, the British Empire almost quintupled in size. It was well on the way to becoming the greatest empire the world had ever seen. This is the story of how it happened and the people who made it happen. In a fast-moving narrative that ranges from London to the harsh terrain of India, Russia and the Far East, Saul David shows how Britain ruthlessly exploited her position as the world's only superpower to expand her empire. Yet little of this territorial acquisition was planned or sanctioned by the home government. Instead it was largely the work of the men on the ground, and to those at home it really did seem that the empire was acquired in a 'fit of absence of mind'.

Saul David creates a vivid portrait of life on the violent fringes of empire, and of the seemingly endless and brutal wars that were fought in the name of trade, civilization and the balance of power.

 

Of course, this one always works for me;

 

51rgsivpEL._SX325_BO1204203200_.jpg

 

Celebrated Victorian bounder, cad, and lecher, Sir Harry Flashman, V.C., returns to play his (reluctant) part in the charge of the Light Brigade in this latest batch of the critically acclaimed Flashman Papers.

As the British cavalry prepared to launch themselves against the Russian guns at Balaclava, Harry Flashman was petrified. But the Crimea was only the beginning: beyond lay the snowbound wastes of the great Russian slave empire, torture and death, headlong escapes from relentless enemies, savage tribal hordes to the right of him, passionate females to the left of him…

Then, finally, that unknown but desperate war on the roof of the world, when India was the prize, and there was nothing to stop the armed might of Imperial Russia but the wavering sabre and terrified ingenuity of old Flashman himself.

 

In other media, there's Tony Richardson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" from, (I think), 1969 or thereabouts, with the late David Hemmings as the ill-fated Captain Nolan;

 

51G5NRjOdRL._SX385_.jpg

 

I'll post up any more I can think of....



Post #45 Mark IV

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 06:42 AM

Harry,

 

Many thanks Victoria's Wars looks like the book to get

 

Regards

Mark



Post #46 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 06:43 AM

While I'm at it, I've never really thought about ranking the Flashman books in order of preference.

I guess the very first one, simply titled "Flashman" and covering the Retreat from Kabul, would be close to the top.

The fourth, "Flashman and the Mountain of Light", recounting his adventures during the 1st Sikh War, 1845-46, is extremely good as well.

 

But if forced I'd have to say that I can't separate "Flashman and the Great Game" at the very top of my favorite from the 12-book series....

....and this one....

 

51SQYOQvjL._SX326_BO1204203200_.jpg

 

After all, mixed in among with terrific writing, well researched history.....and an almost endless list of wonderful characters, there's;

 

....the English vicar’s daughter with her cargo of opium; Lord Elgin in search of an intelligence chief; the Emperor’s ravishing concubine, seeking a champion in her struggles for power; and Szu-Zhan, the female bandit colossus, as practised in the arts of love as in the art of war.

They were not to know that behind his Victoria Cross, Flash Harry was a base coward and charlatan. They took him at face value. And he took them, for all he could, while China seethed through the bloodiest civil war in history, and the British and French armies hacked their way to the heart of the Forbidden City. 



Post #47 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 07:08 AM



Harry,

 

Many thanks Victoria's Wars looks like the book to get

 

Regards

Mark

 

The majority of The Empire section of my library concerns The Great Mutiny, because it's the conflict that most interests me, but you really can't go wrong with Saul David's book.

Here's some I'd recommend anytime;

 

Books.jpg

 

And I really should've scanned the contents page, but hopefully this quick snap will whet the appetite for more;

 

Contents.jpg

 

I almost forgot about Lawrence James -- mainly because they're all upstairs -- B) -- but although not the easiest of reads, just about any of his books are excellent for their in-depth analysis.

 

LJ.jpg



Post #48 Guest_Spitfrnd_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 04:43 PM

Great recommendations Harry.  FWIW, I have always considered the 1968 film Charge of the Light Brigade one of the most effective anti war films every done.  Trevor Howard, Harry Andrews and John Gielgud are simply amazing.  Hemmings is OK.  Like Mash, it was a great movie to watch while you were serving.  The differences, and more importantly, the similarities, were quite revealing.



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Posted 15 January 2016 - 08:18 PM

Okay, a lot of recommendations made, but time to return to the narrative from Page 2 of this thread and see what else was happening outside of the tragedies taking place at Cawnpore....

 

The Siege of Lucknow, June– November 1857 (Part 1)

 

Meanwhile, dramatic events were unfolding at Lucknow, the capital of the province of Oudh, and seat of the British Resident.

Lucknow possessed no military importance for either the British or the rebels, but it represented a thorn in the side of those who wished to re-establish the independent principality of Oudh on the one hand, and symbolized British defiance on the other. In Lucknow, Brigadier-General Sir Henry Lawrence, Chief Commissioner for the province and elder brother of Sir John Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, found himself in the midst of a hostile force, for Oudh stood at the very heart of the rebellion.

 

Having lived in India for most of his life and having himself served in the Bengal Army, he was aware of the disaffection amongst the native troops and had taken steps to defend the garrison and its families in the event of a mutiny. His force numbered 1,720 men, about 700 of whom were Indian troops, plus 153 civilian volunteers, and 1,280 non-combatants.

The mutineers, on the other hand, numbered between 50,000 and 100,000 in and around the city.

 

Lucknow, a jumbled, maze-like city, with walled gardens criss-crossing everywhere, palaces, temples, mosques and residences, extended in a great sprawl with the river Gumtee to the east and a canal to the south. On the northern end of the city lay the British Residency, surrounded by walls and sitting on a plateau. Apart from on its northern side, the Residency was surrounded by buildings which stood up against its walls, and in some places overlooked them.

As early as May, Lawrence had begun to fortify his position, establishing a perimeter manned with troops and artillery, and occupying a dilapidated fort known as the Muchhee Bhowan about half a mile (0.8km) to the north. He also gathered food, ammunition and fodder.

 

In the event of an uprising, Lawrence planned to evacuate the European portion of the city into the Residency, for only one British regiment, the 32nd Foot, was stationed in the city. Lawrence received news of the mutiny at Meerut on 14 May, whereupon he disbanded a local sepoy irregular unit. He also learned that sepoy units within his own garrison, including one cavalry regiment, three infantry regiments and a battery of artillery, were thought to be planning to mutiny on the night of the 30th. This information was correct. Before the mutineers could inflict any damage they were driven from the city by the 32nd Foot and a battery of Bengal Artillery, with an all-British crew.

That day the city’s European population was assembled in the Residency. Part of the 32nd remained in the north of the city to observe the rebel lines; the rest were stationed in the area of the Residency, which was fortified, its walls strengthened, windows blocked up, and stocked with provisions and ammunition.

 

By mid-June Lawrence was aware that all the British outposts in Oudh had been taken by the rebels and that he faced the enemy alone, with no aid immediately to hand. Before the month was out news arrived of the fall of Cawnpore and the surrender of its garrison, though its fate was not yet known.

Oddly enough, the mutineers made no attempt to harass the British garrison at Lucknow until 29 June, when a body of troops estimated at 500 infantry, 50 cavalry and one gun was thought to have arrived at Chinhut, 10 miles (16km) away. In reality, the mutineers numbered over ten times that number.

 

Lawrence neglected to send out a reconnoitering party to determine the strength or exact position of the enemy before foolishly leading a force to confront it on the 30th, when he left the city with 300 men from the 32nd Foot, 170 loyal sepoys, about 100 cavalry and 11 guns. Trained and dressed virtually identically to Lawrence’s troops, the mutineers inflicted 200 casualties and took five guns before forcing him back into the Residency to lick his wounds. Writing to Havelock, Lawrence warned:

 

The enemy has followed us up, and....unless we are relieved quickly, say in fifteen or twenty days, we shall hardly be able to maintain our position.

 

TO BE CONTINUED


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Post #50 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 15 January 2016 - 09:00 PM

It's okay for me, I'm familiar with the geography of India, but something I ought to have done way back in this thread was provide a map. This is about the best I've been able to find that doesn't tend to be obscured by topographical detail and indicates where the main action took place -- the inset is particularly useful.

 

08indiamap1857.jpg


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Posted 16 January 2016 - 08:09 AM

The Siege of Lucknow, June– November 1857 (Part 2)

 

Now realizing the strength of the force opposing him, Lawrence ordered the men in the Muchhee Bhowan to withdraw from their position under cover of darkness and blow it up. Lieutenant-Colonel John Inglis of the 32nd, the second-in-command, writing to Calcutta with a report on the situation, identified the chief danger as well as his disappointment with Lawrence’s handling of the defence:-

 

Our heaviest losses have been caused by fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters, stationed in the adjoining mosques and houses of the native nobility, the necessity of destroying which had been repeatedly drawn to the attention of Sir Henry [Lawrence] by the staff of engineers.

As soon as the enemy had thoroughly completed the investment of the Residency they occupied these houses, some of which were within easy pistol shot of our barricades, in immense force, and rapidly made loopholes on those sides which bore on our post, from which they kept up a terrific and incessant fire, day and night, which caused us many daily casualties.

Moreover, there was no place in the whole of our works that could be considered safe, for several of the sick and wounded, lying in the banqueting hall, which had been turned into a hospital, were killed in the very center of the building.

 

Lawrence himself did not survive for long. On 2 July he was mortally wounded in his room by an exploding shell, and he died two days later.

 

Command devolved upon Inglis, who received a promotion to brigadier-general. Inglis took immediate action, launching a series of sorties against the mutineers’ forward posts and spiking their guns, thus raising the garrison’s battered morale and steeling it against the occasional attacks and regular sniping.

The siege settled into a wearisome contest punctuated by intermittent artillery bombardments, the regular rattle of musket fire, and constant sniping. On some days the mutineers would launch concerted attacks against the defenders, but all such forays were driven back, sometimes with heavy losses.

The outposts were obliged to remain ever-vigilant for fear of being overrun. A captain of the 25th Native Infantry, having fortified his house, described what would befall the whole of the garrison in the event of defeat:-

 

We well knew what we had to expect if we were defeated, and therefore each individual fought for his very life. Each loophole displayed a steady flash of musketry, as defeat would have been certain death to every soul in the garrison.

During this time even the poor wounded men ran out of the hospital, and those who had wounds in their legs threw away their crutches and deliberately knelt down and fired as fast as they could; others, who could do little else, loaded the muskets.

 

In time, as musketry was shown to be relatively ineffective against the British defences, the rebels adopted the practice of mining. Inglis’s engineers dug counter-mines and fought bitterly in the tunnels beneath the Residency walls, generally gaining the upper hand over the attackers. Nevertheless, on 10 August, the rebels managed to detonate a mine which destroyed 20ft (18m) of the defences and part of a house, in so doing creating a large enough breach to invite attack.

The explosion may have been premature, for the handful of mutineers who actually made for the gap were shot down or driven off by a devastating fire directed from the rooftop of the mess-house.

 

The mutineers were only one of the dangers facing those besieged in the Residency. A quieter, but equally deadly, enemy operated from within. Overcrowding and poor sanitation made an excellent breeding ground for diseases such as cholera, dysentery and small-pox, all exacerbated by the virtual impossibility of disposing of the dead. The women behaved with extreme patience and at times valor, undertaking nursing duties, improvising uniforms for soldiers, keeping ration records and lists of casualties, collecting firewood, and bringing tea and alcohol to the men manning the defences.

 

By the end of the siege, as many people had died of, or were incapacitated by, disease as by enemy fire. A chronic shortage of food, which resulted in scurvy and other diseases, compounded other problems, such as heatstroke, trauma, rashes, boils and nervous strain, all of which exacted a daily toll.

Doctors were scarce, though it is of note that amongst the garrison was Dr William Brydon, who had reached Jellalabad as one of the last survivors of the army that had left Kabul on its disastrous retreat in 1842 during the Afgan war.

 

Without adequate space for care of the wounded and sick, those without beds lay in rows on the floor, surrounded by flies and the dreadful stench of gangrene and decomposition. Still, those who could stand and fight did so when the alarm was sounded; the less fit loaded weapons if they had the strength to do so. All were acutely aware that their lives depended on a successful defence, for the fall of the Residency would result in wholesale massacre.

 

TO BE CONTINUED



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Posted 16 January 2016 - 09:29 AM

Harry,
 
Thanks mate those along with your Burma books are on my list.
 
Any good suggestions for Crimea ?
 
Regards
Mark


Sorry to detract from the thread but the Orlando Figes book on Crimea is supposed to be good.

I have not read a lot of Flashman but the Mountain of Light was excellent. I need to start reading some more of Fraser's books.

Post #53 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 09:45 AM

Sorry to detract from the thread but the Orlando Figes book on Crimea is supposed to be good.

I have not read a lot of Flashman but the Mountain of Light was excellent. I need to start reading some more of Fraser's books.

 

I haven't read the Figes book, but it gets good reviews, and tends to reinforce my own opinion that the Crimea wasn't one of Victoria's Little Colonial Wars.

http://www.amazon.com/Crimean-War-History-Orlando-Figes/dp/1250002524/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452955513&sr=1-1&keywords=orlando+figes+crimea 



Post #54 Guest_Spitfrnd_*

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 10:04 AM

A real page turner Harry.  Eagerly awaiting the next installment. :D B)



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Posted 16 January 2016 - 10:10 AM

A real page turner Harry.  Eagerly awaiting the next installment. :D B)

 

Coming up sometime tomorrow I'd think.

PS. Thanks for the correction on the year CotLB was filmed.



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Posted 16 January 2016 - 10:50 AM

I have not read a lot of Flashman but the Mountain of Light was excellent. I need to start reading some more of Fraser's books.

 

Just a word of caution concerning GMF's Flashman series for anyone who hasn't read them before, or are unaware -- you really have to put modern-day sensibilities to one side and remember these books are depicting a fictional ne'er-do-well character from around 1840 to around 1890, and as such, they're distinctly non-PC.

Of course this is very deliberate, plus the majority of the series were published before the term was even invented, or thought of.

E.g. Flashman in the Great Game was released around 1975.

 

There's been a few imitators since GMF passed on in 2008, some good, some not so much. But who else could get away with the likes of this excerpt from page 18 of FitGG:-

 

(Flashy and his beautiful, if possibly somewhat wayward wife, Elspeth, have been invited to the royal holiday home, Balmoral, in the Scottish Highlands. Ostensibly as guests of the Queen and Prince Consort, but in fact to receive instructions for the supreme anti-hero to proceed to the Indian subcontinent on a secret mission for Prime Minister Palmerston....)

 

Elspeth by this time was too nervous even to talk, but her first glimpse of our royal hosts reduced her awe a trifle, I think. We took a stroll the first afternoon, in the direction of Balmoral, and on the road encountered what seemed to be a family of tinkers led by a small washerwoman and an usher who had evidently pinched his headmaster's clothes.

Fortunately, I recognized them as Victoria and Albert out with their brood, and knew enough simply to raise my hat as we passed, for they loathed to be treated as royalty when they were playing at commoners. Elspeth didn't even suspect who they were until we were past, and when I told her she swooned by the roadside.



Post #57 Guest_Spitfrnd_*

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 12:06 PM

Non PC works for me mate. :D  B)



Post #58 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 06:45 PM

The Siege of Lucknow, June– November 1857 (Part 3)

 

Both the British government and public were aware of the heroic resistance maintained by the defenders of the Residency, and although Lucknow was of no military importance, the spirit of defiance it came to symbolize ensured that a serious effort would be made to relieve it.

 

It will be recalled that Havelock had been dispatched from Allahabad in early July to relieve Lucknow, and in the course of which he retook Cawnpore on the 17th of that month. Determined to press on to rescue the defenders of the Residency, he resumed his march on the 25th, when he bridged the Ganges, and entered Oudh. The rebels unsuccessfully confronted him several times near Unao, and by mid-August cholera, casualties and the heat had reduced his command to a mere 1,500 men and ten guns, for which his supply of ammunition had become nearly exhausted. With a large rebel army based at Bithur threatening his flank, Havelock realized that he must retire to Cawnpore and await reinforcements. The two sides met outside Bithur on 16 August, when Havelock drove Nana Sahib’s force of about 4,000 men through the town and into the stream behind, after which he burned Nana Sahib’s palace.

 

By 15 September, substantial numbers of reinforcements under Major-General Sir James Outram had arrived at Cawnpore, increasing Havelock’s relief force to over 3,000 men (2,000 of these being British infantry). Outram outranked Havelock and ought to have superseded him, but he graciously waived his seniority so that Havelock would receive credit for the relief of Lucknow. Outram thereafter accompanied the army in his civil capacity as Chief Commissioner of Oudh, to resume command once the city was retaken.

 

Havelock crossed the Ganges on 19 September and fought a minor, though successful, action at Mangalwar three days later.

The bridge spanning the river Sai was discovered intact and on the 22nd the relief column reached Bani, only 16 miles (26km) from Lucknow – close enough to hear the sound of the enemy’s guns bombarding the Residency.

On the morning of the 23rd Havelock resumed his march, encountering approximately 11,500 rebels with a good complement of artillery about 4 miles (nearly 6.5km) south of Lucknow. A marsh protected part of their line, while their left stood anchored on the Alambagh, a group of walled buildings and enclosed gardens 2 miles (just over 3km) outside the city.

 

Havelock’s artillery drove off the rebel cavalry and silenced their guns, whereupon their infantry broke and ran. Those who attempted to defend the Alambagh were driven out at the point of the bayonet.

On the same day Havelock and Outram received news of the fall of Delhi, greatly boosting the column’s morale.

The two commanders now had to develop a plan for reaching the Residency, which was situated on the far side of the city. Their chosen route was intended to avoid, as far as possible, the narrow loopholed buildings of Lucknow’s labyrinthine streets.

First, they would seize the Char bridge, then move east with the canal on their right until they reached the palace along the river, and then proceed towards the Residency through a series of parks. In the event that he was repulsed, Havelock would pull back to the Alambagh, where he would leave a garrison of several hundred men, together with the sick and wounded, and the baggage.

 

The column began its advance on the morning of 25 September, encountering stiff opposition almost from the start, but it gradually cleared the enemy, many of whom stood behind the cover of walls and enclosures. Havelock’s men seized the bridge, bayoneted the gunners defending it, and proceeded into a built-up area of temples, mosques, palaces, houses and gardens, from the protection of which the rebels offered stiff resistance.

 

In many places the attackers used artillery to blast their way down the narrow lanes, accompanied where necessary by bayonet charges delivered with shouts of “Remember Cawnpore!” Elements of the column stormed and took the Kaisarbagh (King’s Palace), followed by the Chattur Manzil (Old Palace). Then, with only 500 yards (457m) separating them from the gates of the Residency, Havelock’s men encountered a street crossed by trenches and lined with loopholed houses on either side. The column had no choice but to run this terrible gauntlet, taking fearful casualties, including the merciless Brigadier Neill, before reaching the Residency to the unrestrained joy and cheers of its embattled survivors. 

 

The price of relieving the place had been high:- 535 killed or wounded.

 

TO BE CONTINUED



Post #59 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 16 January 2016 - 07:17 PM

Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Byron Farwell -- good for a quick read, or an even quicker reference.

 

51w0e2Md9CL._SX326_BO1204203200_.jpg

 

http://www.amazon.co...WG2CYTF48VB54EH



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Posted 16 January 2016 - 08:53 PM

Great installment, lovin it. :D





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