Glasgow Colour Street Map

Her Little Majesty --The Life of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert,
page 10 of 13

hideous atrocities, cannot find a parallel even in the most lurid pages of history. From Meerut, the insurrection first spread to Delhi, and many of our brave men were massacred there before help could arrive. Over all the province of Oudh, the rebellion next spread, and our brave soldiers, to hold their own even, had often to perform deeds of most heroic courage and sacrifice. The darkest and most ghastly scene of all this dim and lurid drama was enacted at Cawnpore. Here the cruel and treacherous Nana Sahib, that arch-fiend who was leader of the insurgents, had, after having defeated the British, who were sadly out-numbered, established his head-quarters. Before the British, who were under General Wheeler, an old and infirm officer, had surrendered, they had stipulated with Nana Sahib that they should be allowed to march out of Cavmpore, to take the chance of finding their way to Lucknow. This was conceded, the rebel leader suggesting that the small handful of men, only 250, should see their sick and wounded into boats which he had ready for them on the Jumna. The women and children, it was arranged, were to remain in the Residency till this was done. When the little column had put its sick and disabled men into the boats, Nana’s soldiers opened a galling fire on our defenceless men. Those who came back to the shore in order to sell their lives dearly, were shot or sabred without mercy. In the meantime a work which seemed to be born of devils, rather than men, was going on in the Residency. In one room the wives and grown-up daughters of the officers and men, with the children, had been shut up. Here a number of the Nana’s soldiers were told off to slay every one-woman and child alike. There that awful massacre went on, amidst shrieks and prayers, till death sealed the lips of every victim, and the glaring Oudh sun looked down on a scene unparalleled ferocity and ghastly setting, since that blackest day in Herod’s life when “in Ramah was heard a cry, lamentation and weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they were not!”

Such a deed demanded retribution, and it came—swift and certain in its grimness. The very earth seemed to sicken at the sight, and the Lord of Hosts laid bare His arm for vengeance. The British forces, under the brave and good Sir Henry Havelock, pushed on to the scene of a deed which men shuddered to name, fighting battle after battle as they went. In the meantime Nana Sahib’s forces were besieging Lucknow, where a handful of British were bravely holding out against legions of Sepoys. General Outram, a Glasgow man, and an able and lofty-minded soldier, was by this time on the spot. He had been hurried off from Persia, and sent as Chief Commissioner to the seat of war. This appointment gave him full power to supersede Havelock, but he generously waived his right, telling Sir Henry that he had fought nobly, and he would not now rob him of the glory of taking Lucknow.

Another brave man was also on the scene, Sir Colin Campbell. Events had so thickened, and the rebellion had spread to such appalling proportions, that the greatest excitement and alarm prevailed at home. Sir Cohn was sent for by our war authorities, and offered the position of Commander-in-Chief of our forces in India. When asked at the War Office when he would be able to start, with characteristic promptitude and energy he at once replied, “ In an hour hence,” and that same afternoon saw him on his way to the seat of war. When he reached the lines in front of Cawnpore, he found that all the available forces did not amount to 5,000 men, with 35 guns. With these he stormed the fortifications and city, and so skilful were his manœuvres, and so swift and bold the attack, that he not only captured


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