Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Reynell Taylor was again accompanied by Melvill on his march through the northern part of Cashmere, but at Uri they parted, Melvill going to Lahore and Reynell Taylor continuing on his way towards Peshawur.

On September 20 he reached Mozufferabad, where he had an opportunity of seeing some of the local military forces, and he gives the following amusing description of a parade he attended here :

'I saw four regiments under arms at Mozufferabad ; three were under Muthra Dass, and one under Bahadoor Shah. Half the men belonging to all the regiments were in hospital, and a good many, I was told, were dying. Muthra Dass turned out in a blue plain frock coat, gold lieutenant's epaulets, coat open in front, with an oldfashioned frilled shirt protruding, red breeches, and a coloured turban and slippers. He looked something like a man who had been acting a distinguished French officer in a play, and had subsequently got into a row in the green room and come in for a broken head. Bahadoor Shah was dressed in a light brown suit made in European fashion, and fitting so tightly that he could hardly move. He lounged at the head of his regiment with great nonchalance, evidently confident of its powers of taking care of itself. After looking at the regiments I went to inspect the fort, and just as I was crossing the bridge to enter the gate a big gun was fired in my face, or rather just above me, which brought down some large boulders and stones. I was not quite sure whether this was meant for the commencement of a salute, or whether the magazine had accidentally blown up, but not to be taken aback, I was walking on, when the military commander put his head

ܐ ܙ ܙܙ

over the wall and requested me to wait outside till the salute was fired. With this request I complied, and as each explosion was accompanied by an avalanche of rafters and large stones, I was not sorry I had done so.'

In Huzara he fell in with James Abbott, then employed as Boundary Commissioner, and of whom it is related that for years after he had left this inhospitable region 'the natives loved to recall how he fed their children with sweetmeats, or to point with filial veneration to the stone on which he had rested for awhile, saying, “ It was on that stone father Abbott sat.”!! And this same James Abbott, almost the last of the many distinguished men with whom he served, writes to me of Reynell Taylor I was much struck with his appearance, with his handsome face, and most prepossessing address. He was one of those men, ' continues the letter, whom to know even slightly is to trust for ever.'

With Abbott he remained a fortnight, writing day and night at his Cashmere report,' and on October 7, having received letters from George Lawrence, he set out to join him at Yar Hussein. On his road he was met by a messenger with the news 'that George Lawrence intended to attack a “rumgumtious” village that very morning ' (October 11). “This,' continues Reynell Taylor, 'was the first mention I had heard that there was the slightest probability of anything like active hostilities. I immediately made my preparations, and sent on the Khan's horses to be laid on the road dak. This was done in the most businesslike manner, the horses going out at a canter. I seized the few minutes necessary to give the first horse a good

[blocks in formation]

start to get myself something to eat, and then mounting “ Pickle," I rode him about five miles, when I got upon a mare and rode her another eight, then another horse was provided, and I rode him into Katelung. I could see all the time that the troops had moved, by the columns of dust hanging about the mountains, but I heard no firing, and as I knew that it was to be done by circumvention, I thought I might still be in time. On approaching Katelung, however, I questioned some stragglers, and learnt that the affair had taken place and been successful, and on arriving at Lawrence's tent I found two wounded men at the tent door, from whom I learnt that there had been a sharp tussle with the Pathans of Baboozye that morning, and that we had lost one man killed and eleven wounded.'

Later on, George Lawrence and Lumsden returned to camp, and Reynell Taylor heard with delight that, though he had missed the attack on Baboozye, there were other villages refusing to pay their revenue, and that there was still a chance of further fighting.

During the next few days warnings were issued to the refractory villages in the neighbourhood, the mullicks of some of which came in and made their submission ; but two, Pullee and Zormundee, declined to come to terms, and on October 18 George Lawrence determined to proceed against them.

In the fight that followed Reynell Taylor played a not unimportant part, and I give the account of the affair, therefore, in his own words :

October 18.-Marched at two o'clock in the morning for Pullce, taking two regiments of infantry, six guns, a regiment of cavalry, and the Guides, and leaving three companies of infantry and some horsemen to look after the camp, which had been struck and collected into one place.

• The road had been partially prepared for the passage of guns, but was still very bad. We, however, got along very well, and arrived near Pullee a little before daylight, when we halted for a while.

*As soon as it became light enough for reconnoitring we ascertained that Pullee itself was to all appearance deserted, but that the neighbouring village of Zormundee was strongly garrisoned. All the heights around were covered with matchlock men, many of them Swatees, or Suhatees, from the country of that name. We had no wish to be embroiled with these last, so sent them a message telling them to stand off; after which we burnt Pullee, the enemy all the while watching us from a distance.

'I thought it would be very strange if matters ended as they had begun, and accordingly, when the job was about half done, the enemy opened fire on us. At first their fire was scanty, but it very soon grew in strength.

I was holding a small mud square, or gurree, with a company of Najeebs, and, as I knew it was Lawrence's intention to retire after burning Pullee, I went to ask for orders, and was told to burn the gurree and retire. Lawrence was then nearly clear of the village, so I galloped back as quickly as I could to carry out my orders, but found that the plot had thickened considerably during my absence. The enemy had come down in considerable numbers, and, emboldened by the retreat of our main body, were pushing close up to the walls, and to a great extent hemming in my company.

'On my way back to the gurree I met some other troops, and these I ordered to retire, keeping up a fire as they went I then joined my own lot and did my best to set the gurree on fire, but could only get it lighted in two places. I began to think about this time that, as the enemy's fire was becoming very heavy, I might have some difficulty in drawing off my own men, so sent an order to Colonel Holmes to halt the troops I had just before ordered to retire, in order that they might form a support. This order, however, could never have reached him, as they certainly were not there when we came down.

'I could not retire through the village, as it was blazing cheerily, so had to do so round the outside of the walls, and the way we got peppered was a caution to sinners. The Najeebs kept up a good fire, but being in the open, and in the act of retiring, they were far more exposed than their enemies, who came down very close in clusters, taking advantage of the cover afforded by the bushes and Indian corn, and keeping up at the same time a rattling and ever-increasing fire.

Our position was really not a very comfortable one; I believed the main column to be at a considerable distance from the village, and it was quite uncertain whether anyone knew we had been left behind or not. The Najeebs behaved very well and retired steadily, but I saw that any attempt to halt them would be ineffectual.

"We had nearly got clear of the village, and I was trying to get the men to make a stand at a well, when a

« ÎnapoiContinuați »