Camp at Kotree, in Cutch Gundava, December
MY DEAR FATHER As I am now tolerably recovered
and my wounds nearly healed, I take the first opportunity (as my arm is
losing its stiffness) of writing to you, as I have no doubt you will be
very anxious to hear how I am going on. I desired Stisted, the day after
the taking of Kelat, to write, as I was myself then unable. I have no doubt
but that he did so; yet I know you must have been anxious before you heard
the final result; and I am now happy to inform you that I am getting rapidly
well, and expect in a short time to be out of the "sick list." My wound
was esteemed a rather ugly one at first; and I must consider it one of
the most fortunate cases of Providence that the bullet took the direction
it did, as had it swerved in the least degree it must have gone through
my lungs, or downward through my liver; and in either case would most likely
have done my business completely.
As the man who fired at me was so very close,
the ball went clear through, and so saved me from the unpleasant process
of having it extracted by the doctor, &c. I had my right flank exposed
to the man who pinked me, and so the ball passed through my right arm into
my right side, and passing downwards to the rear, came out at my back,
about an inch from the back-bone. Had it passed to the front instead of
to the rear, I should have most assuredly left my bones at Kelat: as it
was, from my coughing up a tolerable quantity of blood when I was first
hit, the doctor imagined that my lungs had been affected, and for a couple
of days, as I have since heard, was very doubtful as to my eventual recovery.
However I may now, I believe, consider myself completely out of the wood.
I find I have not written since the last day
I was at Cabool; and I have had few opportunities of doing so, as we have
been on the move ever since, and until we reached Kelat there was very
little to write about. We broke ground and marched to the other side of
Cabool on Monday, the 16th of September, and halted on the 17th for a grand
tomasha at the Bala Hissar, or Shah's Palace, being no less than the investiture
of the order of the Doorannee Pearl, which was conferred by Shah Shooja
on the big-wigs of the army. Sir John Keane, Sir Willoughby Cotton, and
Mr. Macnaghten get the first order; generals of divisions and brigadiers,
the second; and all field officers engaged at Ghuzni and heads of departments,
the third; for the rest, all officers engaged at Ghuzni get a gold medal,
and the soldiers a silver one: however, all this depends on the will and
sanction of Queen Victoria.
On Wednesday, the 18th, we took our final
leave of Cabool and its beautiful environs, and reached Ghuzni on the 26th,
where we halted two days, and then struck off in a new direction, straight
across country to Quettah, by a new road, and very little known, leaving
Candahar to our right, and thereby cutting off a considerable angle. Our
object in doing this was, besides saving distance, to afford assistance,
if required, to Captain Outram, who had preceded us by about a week, and
was gone with some of the Shah's force into the Ghiljee country, and was
employed in destroying the forts, &c., of some of the refractory Ghiljee
chiefs. He captured one fort in which were found forty or fifty fellows
who were identified as being the same men who had murdered so many camp
followers and some of our officers during our march through the country.
I saw them at Ghuzni, where they were under confinement, and about to be
executed in a few days, as I was told.
About eight marches from Ghuzni, Outram sent
to General Willshire for assistance, as his force was not sufficient; he
was then before the largest of these hill forts, belonging to one of the
most influential and refractory of the chiefs, and who had given us a great
deal of annoyance in our way up. A wing of the 19th Native Infantry, some
Artillery, and the Light Companies were therefore sent to his assistance;
but they made a miserable failure as the chief, putting himself at the
head of about a hundred faithful followers, dashed through their pickets
at night, and made his escape with all his valuables, and without losing
a man. We marched at an easy pace, detaching a force now and then to take
a fort, which was invariably found deserted on our approach.
Nevertheless, we had hard work of it, as our
route lay through and over high and barren mountains with scarcely an inhabitant
or village to be seen, and nothing to be got for our cattle. For three
days my horse, and those of most of us, lived on bushes and rank grass
that we found occasionally. We had to depend on our commissariat for everything;
and they found it difficult to supply grain for the staff and field officers'
horses, so of course ours were quite left out of the question. Guns, powder,
and shot were in great requisition; and, luckily, hares and Khorassan partridges
were tolerably abundant. At times, even our guides confessed themselves
at fault, so difficult was it to make our way through such a country.
However, one thing was greatly in our favour
we had a splendid, bracing climate the whole way, the nights and mornings
being "rayther" too cold, the thermometer ranging at that time between
20 and 30 degrees. The poor sepoys and camp-followers, however, suffered
severely. We experienced scarcely the slightest annoyance from the inhabitants
although we passed through the most disaffected part of the country viz.,
the Ghiljee country, and latterly through the heart of the Kauker country,
whose chief, Hadjee Khan Kauker, is a prisoner at Cabool, as I told you
in my former letter.
At length, on the 31st of October, we reached
Quettah, where we were delighted to find a few Parsee merchants, who had
come up from Bombay, and from whom we were enabled to get a few European
comforts, in the shape of brandy, gin, wine, tea, pickles, &c., which
we had long been without; even milk and butter were luxuries to us.
General Willshire now ordered the 31st Bengal
Native Infantry, which had been left here in our march up, together with
H.M. 17th, and a small detail of Artillery, to proceed to Kelat, under
Colonel Baumgardt, our Brigadier. The 31st were to garrison it; and the
17th were sent because Mehrab Khan, the Kelat chief, had declared that
"he would not surrender to any but European troops, and see the Sepoys
dd first, if they came alone." However, no resistance was expected, as
Mehrab had been offered very liberal terms, which he had apparently accepted.
The rest of the force was to go down by the Bolan Pass, and wait at Bukkur,
or somewhere in Upper Sinde, till joined by the 17th. However, the next
day a new order came out, and the Queen's, together with a stronger detail
of Artillery, were ordered to reinforce the detachment to Kelat.
Well; we marched on the 5th of November; and
the next day, after we had readied our ground, when we had just sat down
to breakfast, great was our surprise to see General Willshire himself ride
into camp with a few of his staff. All we could learn on the subject was
that on that morning, which was the day fixed for the rest of the division
to begin their march down the Bolan Pass, and just as they were about to
start, the General sent for his Adjutant and Quarter-master-general, and,
taking them and his Aides with him, started for our camp. Things now looked
a little more warlike; still we experienced no annoyance during the whole
march; few of us but thought that on our approach Mehrab Khan would give
We halted a day at Mostrong, which was about
half way, and here General Willshire and the political agent communicated
with the Khan, who replied, that "as to the terms, he was willing to meet
General Willshire half way, with a small escort, and there talk them over;
but that if we advanced against him with an army, he should shut his gates,
and we should find him at the door of his citadel with his drawn sword."
There was "no mistake about that 'ere," as Sam Weller would say. However,
most of us thought it was merely bravado, as our progress was not molested
at all; this, however, was afterwards accounted for by the Khan's having
called in all his fighting-men to his standard.
The last three days before arriving at Kelat
we marched in order of battle, and had strong pickets at night, the whole
force sleeping on their arms, and ready to fall in at a moment's notice.
On the 12th we were within eight miles of
the fort; and on our arriving on our ground a few horsemen were observed
reconnoitring us, who fired on our advance, but retired leisurely on the
approach of the column. By that hour the next day "Kelat was prize money."
We strongly expected to be attacked that night, and were all ready for
a shindy; the artillery loaded with grape, and port-fires lighted, &c.
However, it passed over very quietly; but we had hardly marched a mile
from our encampment the next morning, when, in an opening through the hill
to our right, we observed a large cloud of dust, which we soon discovered
to be raised by a strong body of horsemen. They were about a mile and a
half from our flank, and kept moving on in a parallel line with our column.
However, at a point where the road took a
turn towards the hills they halted, at about 150 yards from the advance
guard, and deliberately fired into them with their matchlocks, but at too
great a distance to do much harm. One company from the advance was sent
to dislodge them; upon which they moved quickly down towards the main body,
and taking up a position at about the same distance from us as before from
the advance, gave us the same salute as they had before treated those in
front to. Their balls came whistling in upon us on all sides, and knocked
up the dust like drops of rain, but no damage was done; they then galloped
off. It was a great pity we had no more cavalry with us; only fifty Bengal,
or Irregular Horse, and their cattle were so done up that they were perfectly
The enemy laughed at the advance companies
that were now sent out to skirmish with them. The ground consisted of undulating
hills, and rather rough, over which our skirmishers, encumbered as they
were with knapsacks and other absurdities, "selon les regles," found
it very difficult to move quickly, and the enemy, riding their sure-footed
horses to the top of one of those hills, would fire down, and wheel round,
and be under cover of the other side of the hill before our men could return
the compliment effectually. If we had had a squadron of Dragoons with us,
lightly equipped, the result would have been very different. But, unfortunately,
the only time during nearly the whole campaign when cavalry would have
been of important service to us, we were without them.
However, very little blood is ever shed in
desultory affairs of this sort, and they only wounded about three or four
of our men; and at one place, a party of them coming unexpectedly upon
the reserve of the skirmishers, two sections opened a fire upon them, emptied
a few saddles, and sent the rest flying. We with the main body had a very
good view of the whole affair, and a very animating scene it was. Our road
had hitherto lain through a valley, about four miles broad; but when within
about three miles and a half from Kelat, it takes a sudden turn to the
right, and leads, for the next mile and a half, through a narrow and straight
pass, after penetrating which, and arriving at the debouche, the fortress
of Kelat appeared before us, frowning defiance.
The first sight of it had certainly a very
pretty effect: the sun had just burst out, and was lighting the half-cultivated
valley beneath us, interspersed with fields, gardens, ruinous mosques,
houses, &c.; while Kelat, being under the lee of some high hills, was
still in the shade; so that while all around presented a smiling and inviting
appearance, as if hailing our approach with gladness, the fortress above
seemed to maintain a dark and gloomy reserve, in high contrast with the
rest of the picture; nor was the effect diminished when a thin cloud of
smoke was seen spouting forth and curling over its battlements, followed,
in a short interval, by the report of a large gun, which came booming over
the hills towards us.
"Hurrah! they have fired the first shot,"
was the exclamation of some of us, "and Kelat is prize-money!" On looking
more minutely at it, however, it had rather an ugly appearance, and seemed,
at that distance, much more formidable than Ghuzni did at the first view.
We could only see the citadel, which was much more commanding and difficult
of access than that of Ghuzni. The outworks, however, as we afterwards
found, were not half so strong; these were, however, hidden from our view
by two hills, rather formidable in appearance, covering the approach to
the fortress, on each of which a redoubt was erected, and which we could
perceive covered with men.
Beneath us in the valley the advance companies
were seen pushing on to occupy the gardens and other inclosures, while
nearer the fort we could observe the body of cavalry we had been before
engaged with, drawn up as if waiting our approach, under cover of the redoubts
on the hills. Half way down the road leading into the valley was our Artillery,
consisting of four six-pounders, field-pieces belonging to the Shah, and
two nine-inch howitzers, with our Horse Artillery. Here, also, was General
Willshire and staff, who now ordered one of the guns to open on the horsemen,
in order to cover the movements of the advance companies, who were driving
the enemy's matchlock men before them out of the inclosures in good style.
The first shot struck wide of them, the second
kicked up a dust rather too close to be pleasant, and the third went slap
in among them, knocking over a horse or two, when these gallant cavaliers
cut their sticks, and we saw no more of them. We soon moved into the valley,
and halted for a considerable time at the foot of the hill. We were here
within three-quarters of a mile of the nearest redoubt, and about a mile
and half from Kelat itself. General Willshire now made a reconnaissance,
and the men from the different baggage guards came in and joined their
After halting here about an hour, (the guns
from the nearest redoubt every now and then pitching a shot rather close
to us,) the brigade-major made his appearance with orders for the three
regiments to form in quarter distance column of companies, to attack the
two redoubts, each leaving one company with the colours to form the reserve.
The 17th were to attack the nearest redoubt, and the 31st Bengal Native
Infantry to turn its right, while we were to push on and carry the other,
which was the nearest to the fort. At the same time, our artillery were
brought into position, and covered our advance.
The plot now began to thicken, and altogether
the whole affair was the most exciting thing I ever experienced, and beat
Ghuzni out of the pit. We moved steadily on, the guns from the redoubts
blazing at us as fast as they could load them; but they were very inferior
workmen, and only two shots struck near us, one knocking up the dust close
to us, and bounding over our heads, and the other whizzing close over our
leading company; however, they kept their ground till we arrived at the
foot of the hills, when our artillery having unshipped one of their guns,
and otherwise deranged their redoubts, they exploded their powder, and
retired, some leisurely, but most in the greatest disorder. Here, again,
we had occasion to regret having no cavalry, as a troop or two would have
effectually cut off or dispersed them.
On reaching the top of the hill which they
had abandoned, we found ourselves within a quarter of a mile of the lower
end of the town, with the Beloochees making the best of their way towards
the gate, which was open to admit them. Captain Outram here rode up to
us, and cried out, "On men, and take the gate before they can all get in."
This acted like magic on the men. All order was lost, and we rushed madly
down the hill on the flying enemy, more like hounds with the chase in view
than disciplined soldiers. The consequence was, we were exposed to a most
galling fire from the ramparts, by which several of our best men were put
hors de combat; the fugitives were too quick for us, and suddenly
the cry was raised by our leading men, "The gate is shut."
ll was now the greatest confusion, and shelter
was sought for wherever it could be found. Unluckily a rush was made by
the greatest part of the regiment to an old shell of a house, which could
scarcely afford cover to twenty men, much less to the numbers who thronged
into it, and who were so closely jammed that they could not move; and so
the outside portion were exposed to the fire from the left bastion of the
town, which completely out-flanked them, and from which the matchlock-men
kept pouring in a cool and most destructive fire upon this dense mass with
the utmost impunity; while a wide, broken-down doorway in the centre exposed
them to a fire from another bastion in their front, if ever they shewed
their nose for an instant to see how matters were going on, or to return
their fire. Poor fellows! you may guess their situation was anything but
The consequences soon began to shew themselves
eight men and one officer (poor Gravatt) were shot dead, and several
more were severely wounded, and had the artillery been less expeditious
in knocking down the gate, the greatest part of them would have been annihilated.
The other part of the regiment (myself among the rest) were more fortunate.
Seeing so many rushing to one place, I made for another shelter, about
twenty paces to the rear, which consisted of a long wall, about five feet
high, and which afforded ample cover to us all. It was within seventy yards
of the bastion that proved so fatal to the other party, and from which
they kept up a pretty good fire upon us whenever we exposed ourselves.
However, I was so excited that nothing would
do but I must see the whole affair; this, however, was rather foolish,
as every now and then they would direct their attention to us, and send
in a volley, which would sing over us and knock up the dust and the old
wall about us in good style. Simmons's horse (the Adjutant's) was foolishly
brought down, and had not been a second there when it was shot slap through
the hind-leg. The ground behind us was raised a little, so that the horse's
leg was in a line with and nearly touching my head as I stood looking over
the wall; on reaching the cover we found four or five poor fellows who
had been wounded in the rush down the hill, and who had crawled in here
as well as they could.
I had an excellent view of the further proceedings
from this place. Right above us on the redoubt, from which we had driven
the enemy, our artillery had now established themselves, and were slapping
away as hard as they could at the gate. I could see every shot as it struck:
they made some very clever shots, sending the balls all about the gate,
and sometimes knocking down a portion of the bastion over it, considerably
deranging the operations of the matchlock-men who were in it; but still
the old gate would not fall. In the mean time, the advance companies, which
had been in quiet possession of the gardens, inclosures, &c., since
the beginning of the affair, were now ordered up to a wall about thirty
yards in front of the doorway. They had to run over about three hundred
yards of open country before they could get to it, exposed to a fire from
the bastion over the door. I saw them make a splendid rush, but three poor
fellows and a native water-bearer fell, whom I saw crawl under cover afterwards.
All this time the artillery were banging away,
but as they made so slight an impression on the gate, two guns of the Shah's
were moved down the hill a little to our left, and within about one hundred
and fifty yards of the gate. They fired two shots; the first made the old
gate shake; the second was more fortunate, and took it about the middle,
and brought it completely down. Our men gave a general hurrah; and Outram
galloping down the hill at full speed, gave the word, "Forward;" and General
Willshire came up to us at his best pace, waving his hat, "Forward, Queen's,"
he sung out, "or the 17th will be in before you." On we rushed again for
the gate as hard as we could; the enemy treated us to one more volley,
by which they did some execution, and Dickenson was wounded in his leg,
and then abandoning the lower defences of the town, retreated to the citadel.
However, on entering the gate, we found matters
not so easy as we expected. The streets were very narrow and so intricate
that they formed a perfect labyrinth, and it was very difficult to make
any progress through them. The men, therefore, soon got scattered about
and broken into small parties; and some, I am afraid, thought of loot,
or plunder, more than of endeavouring to find their way to the citadel.
I forgot to mention that during the time we were under cover, the 17th
and 31st Native Infantry had moved round the hill and taken up a position
on our right. These two regiments were ordered forward and into the town
and at the same time and the same gate as we were. The whole force, therefore,
entered the town nearly together.
I followed with a party of our men, and we
pushed along as well as we could through streets, by-ways, &c. This
was rather nervous work, as we never could tell what we had to expect before
us; there was no open enemy to be seen, but whenever we came to an opening
exposed to the citadel, a few bullets invariably came whizzing in about
us, and knocked over a man or two; moreover, having the recollection of
Ghuzni fresh in our minds, we expected every moment a rush of some desperate
fellows from the narrow holes we passed through. After groping my way through
narrow passages and all sorts of agreeable places, I found myself in the
exact spot I had started from viz., the gate by which we had entered.
Here a man of our Light Company came and told
me that he had discovered a way to the citadel, and begged me to put myself
at the head of a few men there collected. Of course I did so, and in a
short time we found ourselves in a large courtyard, with stables, &c.,
full of horses and Beloochees; right under the windows of the citadel.
These men cried out for "aman," or "mercy;" but the soldiers, recollecting
the treachery that had been practised at Ghuzni in a similar case, were
going to shoot the whole kit of them. Not liking to see this done, I stopped
their fire, and endeavoured to make the Beloochees come out of their holes
and give themselves up.
I was standing at this time in the centre
of the court, and had heard a few shots whizzing rather close over my head,
when I suddenly received a shock, which made me think at the moment I was
smashed to bits, by a ball from a ginjall, or native wall piece. I was
knocked senseless to the ground, in which state I suppose I lay for a few
minutes, and when I came to myself I found myself kicking away, and coughing
up globules of clotted blood at a great pace. I thought at first I was
as good as done for; however, on regaining a little strength, I looked
around, and seeing none of our men in the place, and thinking it more than
probable, from what I knew of their character, that the very men whom I
had been endeavouring to save might take it into their heads to give me
the "coup de grace" now I was left alone, I made a desperate effort,
got on my legs, and managed to hobble out, when I soon found some of our
men, who supported me until a dooly could be brought, into which I was
placed, and was soon on my way to the doctor.
You may imagine my feelings all this time
to be anything but pleasant. I still continued coughing up blood, which
was flowing also pretty freely from my side. The idea that you may probably
have only a few hours longer to exist, with the many recollections that
crowd into your mind at such a time, is anything but a delightful one;
and the being so suddenly reduced from a state of vigorous activity to
the sick, faintish feeling that came over me, by no means added to the
agremens of my situation.
I well recollect being carried through the
gate, where General Willshire with his staff and the officers who had been
left with the reserve companies were, and who all pressed forward to see
who the unfortunate fellow in the dooly was, when the low exclamation of
"Poor Holdsworth!" and the mysterious and mournful shaking of heads which
passed among them, by no means tended to enliven my spirits. I soon reached
the place where the doctors, with their understrappers, were busily employed
among the wounded, dying, and dead. I was immediately stripped and examined,
and then, for the first time, heard that the ball had passed through and
out of my body. I also now discovered that it had struck and gone through
my arm as well.
Being very anxious, I begged Hunter, the doctor,
to let me know the worst. He shook his head, and told me "he thought it
a rather dangerous case, principally from my having spit so much blood."
He had not time, however, to waste many words with me, as he had plenty
of others to attend. Dickenson, also, I found here; having been wounded,
as I before told you. He did all he could to keep my spirits up, but, as
you may suppose, I felt still very far from being comfortable. Nor were
the various objects that met my eye of a consolatory nature: men lying,
some dead, others at their last gasp, while the agonizing groans of those
who were undergoing operations at the hands of the hospital assistants,
added to the horror of the scene. I may now say that I have seen, on a
small scale, every different feature of a fight.
In the meantime, there had been sharp fighting
in the citadel. Our men, after forcing their way through numerous dark
passages, in some places so narrow and low that they were forced to crawl
singly on their hands and knees, at length arrived there; but as there
were a great number of approaches to this their last place of refuge, our
men got broken up into small detached parties, and entered it at different
places. One party reached the place where Mehrab Khan, at the head of the
chiefs who had joined his standard, was sitting with his sword drawn, &c.
The others seemed inclined to surrender themselves, and raised the cry
of "Aman!" but the Khan, springing on his feel, cried, "Aman, nag!" equivalent
to "Mercy be dd," and blew his match; but all in vain, as he immediately
received about three shots, which completely did his business; the one
that gave him the "coup de grace," and which went through his breast,
being fired by a man of our regiment, named Maxwell. So fell Mehrab Khan,
having fulfilled his promise to General Willshire, and died game, with
his sword in his hand, in his own citadel.
Other parties, however, were not so fortunate,
as each being too weak, the enemy generally offered a determined resistance,
and several, after giving themselves up, finding the numbers to whom they
had surrendered smaller than they had at first appeared, turned upon them
suddenly; for which, however, they suffered in the long-run, as the soldiers,
at last, maddened by this conduct, refused quarter, and fired at once into
whatever party they met, without asking any questions.
At length the few survivors, being driven
to their last stronghold at the very top of the citadel, surrendered on
condition of their lives being granted to them; when one loud and general
"hurrah!" proclaimed around that Kelat was ours. The greatest part of the
garrison had, however, before this managed to make their escape over the
hills. Dickenson, while he was lying wounded by my side, saw quantities
of them letting themselves down the walls of the citadel by means of ropes,
Dooly, the most faithful of his chiefs and
followers, remained by Mehrab Khan to the last. These were all either taken
prisoners or killed. Besides the Khan himself, the Dadur chief, who had
been the cause of great annoyance to us in our way up, and the Governor
of the Shawl district, were among the slain. The only two men of his council
of any note among the survivors are at present prisoners in our camp, on
their way to Bengal.
Thus ended this short, but decisive affair,
which I consider to be a much more gallant one than that of Ghuzni, both
in regard to the numbers engaged on each side and the manner in which it
was taken. We merely halted for an hour, and then went slap at it, as if
it was merely a continuation of our morning's march. General Willshire
was exceedingly pleased with the result, as well he might be, and issued
a very complimentary address to the force engaged, the next day. I hope
and conclude his fortune will be made by it.
The loss on our side at Kelat was, in proportion,
a great deal greater than at Ghuzni. We had altogether about 1100 bayonets
engaged, and the loss was 140, being about one in seven; of this loss,
the Queen's bear a proportion equal to that of the other two regiments
together, having returned about seventy in the butcher's bill out of 280,
which was the number we brought into the field, being about one in four.
Out of thirteen officers, we had one killed, four severely, and one slightly,
wounded; twenty-three men were killed, and forty-one wounded, of whom some
have died since, and most will feel the effect of their wounds till their
dying day, as the greatest portion are body wounds.
With regard to prize-money, I have no doubt
that had things been even tolerably well managed, there would have been
plenty of it, but we did not stay there long enough to search the place
thoroughly. I hear also that the other part of the force that went down
by the Bolan Pass claim to share with us, which we do not allow; so that,
perhaps, it may get into the lawyers' hands, and then good-bye to it altogether,
I do not expect, under any circumstances, more than 100 pounds. Some of
the rooms of the citadel were very handsomely fitted up, particularly one
in the old fellow's harem, which was one entire mirror, both sides and
We remained at Kelat till the 21st of November,
and then marched by the Gundava Pass on this place. During the week that
we remained there, my wounds continued doing very well, and I had very
little fever; and on the third and fourth days after I was hit, the doctor
considered me "all right." On the two first days of our march, however,
I caught a low fever, which left me on the third, and I have continued
to grow gradually better ever since. We found the Gundava a much longer
and more difficult pass than that of the Bolan, and could get very little
grain or supplies either for ourselves or our cattle.
Our march was perfectly unmolested, as by
that time the new Khan had arrived at Kelat, and most of the principal
chiefs had acknowledged him. I do not know, however, what has become of
Mehrab Khan's eldest son, a lad of fifteen years old, who was bringing
up a reinforcement to his father in our rear, while we were marching on
Kelat, but did not arrive in the neighbourhood until after the place was
taken. He, however, threatened us with a night attack while we were lying
in front of it, so that we were on the alert, every one sleeping on his
arms during the whole time we were there.
"We laid not by our harness bright,
During the whole of this time the weather set
in dreadfully cold, colder than I ever experienced it anywhere in my life;
sharp frosts, &c.
Neither by day nor yet by night."
Well; to cut the matter short, yesterday,
the 7th of December, we arrived at this place, which is the same that we
halted at for a week in our march up. Here, at length, we are in the land
of plenty, and enjoy such luxuries as fresh eggs, butter, milk, vegetables,
&c., with a goût that those only can feel who have been
so long without them as we have. We find the climate, however, very hot,
and I am sorry to say that we are losing many fine fellows from the effect
of the change. It is very painful to witness these poor fellows going off
in this miserable manner, after surviving the chances of fire and steel,
and all the harassing duties they have had to perform during the campaign,
now when they have arrived at nearly the very end of it.
Larkhanu, Dec. 24th. I have delayed sending
this till our arrival here, as the communication between this and Bombay
is perfectly open, which might not have been the case at Kotra. We have
been here about a week, and report says that we are to finish our marching
here, and drop down the river to Curachee in boats. I hope this may prove
the case, as I am sure we have had marching enough for one campaign. Another
report, however, says, that there is a kick-up in the Punjab, and that
we shall be detained in this country in consequence; but I do not think
That part of our force which was not employed
at Kelat went down by the Bolan Pass, and have suffered considerably from
cholera, which luckily we have as yet escaped. The men that we have lost
since our arrival in this low country have all died from complaints of
the lungs, from which they were perfectly free in the cold country above
the hills. Since writing the former part of this letter, I have received
a letter from Kate, dated September 10th, which I will answer as soon I
have finished this letter to you.
December 25th, Christmas day. I hope to spend
this evening more comfortably than I did last year, when I was on out-lying
picket, the night before we commenced our first march. Now, I trust, we
have finished our last. We have luckily met all our mess supplies here,
which have been waiting for us about six months, having never managed to
get further than Bukkur. So now it is a regular case of
"Who so merry as we in camp?
Live in clover," &c.
I have just heard that the order is out
for our marching the day after to-morrow to the banks of the river, there
to remain till the boats are ready. Now the campaign is so near its close,
I feel very glad that I have been on it, as it is a thing that a man does
not see every day of his life in these times; and I consider it to be more
lucky than otherwise that I have four holes in my body as a remembrance
of it; but I cannot say that I relish a longer sojourn in India, unless
we have the luck to be sent to China, which I should like very much (fancy
sacking Pekin, and kicking the Celestial Emperor from his throne), as I
do not think the climate has done me any good, but on the contrary.
I do not know whether these wounds of mine
will give me any claim; and, talking about that, I would wish you to
inquire whether or not I am entitled to any gratuity for them. I hear that
officers returned "wounded" on the list in the Peninsular Campaign, no
matter how slight the wound might have been, received a gratuity of one
year's pay as a compensation; and this, I think, was called "blood-money."
I do not know how far this may be the case at present, but I do not think
that 120 pounds ought to be lost sight of for want of a little inquiry.
By-the-bye, I had nearly forgotten to say
that I have received two letters from Eliza, which I will answer as soon
as possible; but I do not think it safe to keep this open any longer, as
I may lose the mail to Bombay; so must conclude, with best love to all
Your very affectionate son,