Deesa, April 21st, 1840.
MY DEAR FATHER, — I received your letter,
dated January 18th, about the beginning of this month, while on our march
from Mandavie to this place. I see by the papers that the news of the taking
of Kelat had reached England, as I find my name mentioned in the "Western
Luminary," which came out in this overland. I wrote you last from Curachee,
about the beginning or middle of February. We stayed there till the 20th.
A few days before we left, Lord Keane and suite arrived, bringing with
him Hyder Khan, the captured chief of Ghuzni. While there, Lord Keane presented
new colours to the 40th regiment, which we had an opportunity of witnessing.
He and all his party have since gone home.
On the 20th, I, with my company under my command,
embarked for Mandavie, in Cutch, where we arrived in two days, in Patamars,
and waited till the whole regiment came down, which they did by companies,
so that it was the 10th of March before we were able to start for this
We arrived here on the 4th of this month,
pushing on as fast as we could, as the commanding officer was anxious to
get the men under cover, on account of the great heat. There was excellent
shooting the whole way up; and if it had been the cold season, I should
have enjoyed the march amazingly; but it was too hot to venture out. On
arrival here we found about three hundred recruits, who had arrived since
we went on service, and about fifty of the men we left behind us; also
seven new officers. As I have a company under my command I have scarcely
had a moment to myself since I have been here; what with fitting and getting
the recruits in order, and new-clothing the old hands, you have no conception
what tedious work it is getting into quarters.
I have bought a very comfortable little bungalo
for four hundred rupees. We were promised our full batta on our arrival
here; but, although the Bengalees, it is said, received theirs some time
ago, yet there is a screw loose, I fear, somewhere in the Bombay, and that
it may be some time before we get ours, and that it will not be as much
as the Bengalees: so much for being in an inferior Presidency. This is
a great disappointment, after our losses on the campaign.
With regard to this place, I have not been
long enough in it to form an opinion. Its appearance is decidedly against
it, the soil being nothing but a barren sandy desert, with the low hills
of the Aravulles to the eastward, running north to the mountain Aboo, the
Parnassus of Hindostan. The last week has been oppressive, and hot in the
extreme; and this is but the commencement of the hot weather, which I am
told will last about six weeks longer, when a very slight monsoon comes
on, and lasts at intervals till the end of October, when the cold season
commences, which is said to be very pleasant. There is a lot of game here
of every description, including lions; and it is one of the best hog-hunting
stations in India.
Our men, to the surprise of everybody, were
very healthy in the march up; and since they have been here, and not having
their knapsacks to carry, knocked off their work in grand style. The men
we have brought back with us are well-seasoned, hardy fellows, and I would
back them to march against any soldiers in the world.
I suppose you have long ere this received
Stisted's letter and mine about Kelat. Colonel Arnold died at Cabool whilst
we were there, and was buried with a magnificent military funeral in the
I am sorry to say that, as I predicted, the
spear which I took at the storming of Ghuzni has been broken to pieces
through the carelessness of my servants. I have, however, the Koran and
sword from Kelat; and I think I shall be able to get a matchlock taken
at that place, — a very good specimen of the sort of thing I was wounded
by; perhaps it may be the identical one. The sword I left in Cutch, in
my way up from Mandavie, to be put to rights, as the workmen of that country
are the best in India, I will try if I can get another weapon, as a remembrance
of Ghuzni. I brought down from Cabool as far as Quettah a very good specimen
of the Kyber knife, a very cut-throat sort of instrument, with which every
Afghan is armed. I sent it down with my other things through the Bolan
Pass, when we turned off to Kelat, and I am sorry to say it was stolen.
You write about old ——: did I never mention
him to you? He is here; but was not with us on the campaign, being too
unwell when we started. Though not an old man, he is a very old soldier
for an Indian, and is nearly worn out: he is anxious to get his discharge
at the end of the year, when he will have served his twenty-one years,
and be entitled to a decent pension. He is a very straight-forward, blunt,
honest old fellow, and when he first joined was a very powerful man, and
the best wrestler in the regiment, thereby proving his South Devon blood.
He was ----'s servant when I joined, and I was delighted at hearing the
South Devon dialect again, which he speaks with so much truth and native
elegance that you would imagine he had but just left his native village.
There were a great many Devonshire men in the regiment; we lost one, a
very fine young man in the Grenadiers, in coming down from Kelat to Cutch
Gundava, by the same chest complaint that carried off so many: he was a
native of Tiverton.
Well; it is twelve o'clock, and I am afraid
I shall be too late for the post; so good bye.
Your affectionate son,