How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

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How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mopsa » 24 Jul 2017 06:49

I once read an account of a Regiment returning from Nagpur to Bombay, bound for their depot in England. It took them 62 days to march about 550 miles, which is a heck of a trip. But looking at the map, Roorkee was even more remote from the coast than Nagpur. How did the troops get there, fresh out from England? Was the Ganges navigable for the distance? If they had to march any of the way, at what port would they disembark?
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mike snook » 24 Jul 2017 23:00

From Calcutta cross the Hooghly to Howrah. Board the train. Proceed 125 miles to Raniganj. Get off the train and embark on a Ganges steamer. Steam to Allahabad Fort. Pick up your monkeys and parrots and start route marching along the Grand Trunk Road, turning off to the right at the appropriate point. If they were lucky they might be carried aboard bullock wagons for some of the way.

Prior to the Mutiny it was not usual for steamers to go beyond Allahabad. During the Mutiny they went as far as Cawnpore, but it was a struggle and they often ran aground. There were isolated lengths of railroad beyond Raniganj, but they were not joined up so as to make the railway operational in 57. Doubtless the completion of the railway was hurried along in the immediate aftermath of the Mutiny.

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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mopsa » 25 Jul 2017 11:45

Crikey, Mike. If you picked up your parrots and monkeys in Allahbad and marched the rest of the way to Roorkee, the parrots would be speaking English and the monkeys playing chess by the time you got there. The distance from Allahbad to Roorkee is about the same as from Nagpur to Bombay, so they would be 62 days on the march, and umpteen days of train and steamboat to get to Roorkee. So maybe three to four months, door to door? Carrying equipment I suppose. Not to mention hauling guns, possibly. A bit of a steep climb in the early part. That's got to be a shock to the boys from London and Liverpool.

I'm just going to sit here and boggle at that for a while. Thanks, Mike, for explaining the degree of difficulty.
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mike snook » 25 Jul 2017 13:32

It is a long way! Hauling guns no: these were always in situ at the various garrisons and also held in centralized reserves at the big 'magazines' like Delhi and Allahabad. I don't know whether anybody would ever go direct to places like Roorkee from a start point in Calcutta. Perhaps the more remote stations were manned by internal (Bengal Army) rotation. I haven't looked into whether a unit would be fixed in one station throughout its (lengthy) Indian tour. Probably not I fancy. In any event, marches of several hundred miles were not uncommon. Nice and steady, 10 miles a day, marching in the early morning and the evening in hot weather. Come to think of it, I don't suppose anybody would have any monkeys or parrots on arrival in Calcutta. Funnily enough I was in a bookshop the other day with an old regimental mate and saw a book called, 'Pick up your monkeys and parrots'. The phrase continues in use in the infantry to the present day and I knew he would know it, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up. 'Do you know where that comes from?' He didn't, so I was off into describing the spectacle of regiments marching through India in the 19th Century....until he couldn't take any more and begged for mercy!

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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mopsa » 26 Jul 2017 01:40

Go on, shoot me down in flames. Well, I suppose they could have home made guns up in Roorkee, though there would be the risk of sending themselves up in flames. And I might have been extrapolating from the 24th (Warwickshire) Regiment which marched from Nagpur to Bombay in 62 days (Historical Records of the 24th Regiment, from its formation in 1869, London: Simpkin, Marchsall, Hamilton, Kent & Co, 1892. pp 97-98.), but it does seem like there were some mighty long marches.

If you had re-inforcements for the Sappers and Miners arriving in Calcutta in April 1858, wouldn't you be sending them north toot sweet?

Your story of the parrots and monkeys is a warning to all of us not to bore the pants off our friends. :lol:
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Maureene » 27 Jul 2017 12:01

The following link contains letters to family in England, from soldiers about their experiences during the Indian Mutinty, some of which mention the distances travelled.
http://www.leighanddistricthistory.com/ ... -1857-1858

One soldier is stated to be with the 14th Battalion Royal Infantry. The 14th Regiment of Foot doesn’t appear to have been in India at this time, any suggestions as to what this Battalion might be?

mike snook wrote: Funnily enough I was in a bookshop the other day with an old regimental mate and saw a book called, 'Pick up your monkeys and parrots'.

I have previously written about the book Pick Up Your Parrots and Monkeys: The Life of a Boy Soldier in India by William Pennington, which I found very interesting and easy to read.
viewtopic.php?f=82&t=1185&p=44928#p43989

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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Frogsmile » 28 Jul 2017 13:43

Maureene wrote:The following link contains letters to family in England, from soldiers about their experiences during the Indian Mutinty, some of which mention the distances travelled.
http://www.leighanddistricthistory.com/ ... -1857-1858

One soldier is stated to be with the 14th Battalion Royal Infantry. The 14th Regiment of Foot doesn’t appear to have been in India at this time, any suggestions as to what this Battalion might be?

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I think that 'Royal' infantry means it was one of the so-called Queen's regiments rather than an HEIC, or irregular unit, Maureen. The number 14 is likely a typo error from the original transcript and probably relates to either, the 34th (Cumberland), or the 84th (York & Lancaster) Regiments of Foot, both of which were in the ORBAT for the assault on Lucknow during Campbell's relief (the second one).
I enclose an image of the handwritten ORBAT articulating the infantry divisions.
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Maureene » 29 Jul 2017 10:10

Frogsmile wrote:I think that 'Royal' infantry means it was one of the so-called Queen's regiments rather than an HEIC, or irregular unit, Maureen. The number 14 is likely a typo error from the original transcript and probably relates to either, the 34th (Cumberland), or the 84th (York & Lancaster) Regiments of Foot, both of which were in the ORBAT for the assault on Lucknow during Campbell's relief (the second one).
I enclose an image of the handwritten ORBAT articulating the infantry divisions.


Thanks for your advice Frogsmile. I found a regimental account of the 34th Regiment of Foot during the Indian Mutiny which didn't seem to match the content of the letter, but haven't as yet found one for the 84th Regiment of Foot. However, the letters were sent to family members in the Leigh District, Greater Manchester. Perhaps this would be in the recruiting area for the 84th Foot at this period?

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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Jul 2017 13:22

Maureene wrote:
Frogsmile wrote:I think that 'Royal' infantry means it was one of the so-called Queen's regiments rather than an HEIC, or irregular unit, Maureen. The number 14 is likely a typo error from the original transcript and probably relates to either, the 34th (Cumberland), or the 84th (York & Lancaster) Regiments of Foot, both of which were in the ORBAT for the assault on Lucknow during Campbell's relief (the second one).
I enclose an image of the handwritten ORBAT articulating the infantry divisions.


Thanks for your advice Frogsmile. I found a regimental account of the 34th Regiment of Foot during the Indian Mutiny which didn't seem to match the content of the letter, but haven't as yet found one for the 84th Regiment of Foot. However, the letters were sent to family members in the Leigh District, Greater Manchester. Perhaps this would be in the recruiting area for the 84th Foot at this period?

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Just an opinion rather than advice, really. As you've already pointed out the 14th were not in theatre and 'Royal' in the context given seemed to be more likely a euphemism for H.M. to me. The regiments had no fixed recruiting area before 1881 and so they recruited from wherever their depot was located at the time. Ideally we would need to know when our spokesman enlisted to ascertain his most likely home area. I haven't been able to find a Nafziger sourced locations list for before 1857, but in 1858 the 34th's depot was at Colchester and the 84th's at Chatham, neither of which match the man's home. However, the Edinburgh Gazette shows the 34th's depot between Autumn 1855 and late Summer 1856 to be at Preston, so that seems a possibility. The 84th's depot was in Chatham then too and so does not seem to have moved for some years.
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Frogsmile » 29 Jul 2017 16:18

I have found another possibility, in that Brigadier Greathed's 3rd Brigade contained some company sized drafts of the 64th Regiment, whose movements seem to match the Ramsdale narrative (scroll to bottom): http://www.irondukeminiatures.co.uk/p-1-lucknow-front
However, throughout the period 1855-58 the 64th's depot was in Kent, first in Chatham and then in Canterbury.
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mike snook » 30 Jul 2017 11:36

The handwritten orbat above post-dates Campbell's 2nd Relief of Lucknow (Nov 57), as Outram's 1st Division, as listed there, is made up of the units that had earlier executed the first relief (25 Sep 57), only to be unable to break out again with the original garrison and civilian contingent commanded by Col John Inglis. Thus 1st Division is made up the original units of the Allahabad Moveable Column, plus 5 x coys HM 5th Fusiliers and 7 x coys HM 90th LI, (brought up by Outram), which at that juncture transitioned to become known as the Oude/Oudh Field Force. Famously both AMC and OFF were commanded by Brig-Gen Havelock, Maj-Gen Outram having waived his military rank in order that his junior could achieve the goal for which he had been so nobly struggling since July. Outram resumed his rank on arrival in Lucknow. Once Campbell had extricated the enlarged garrison in November, he left Outram and all his units, (Havelock had died of dysentery even as the extrication was proceeding), to hold a defensive position at the Alambagh. You could argue it was technically a 'fixing' operation, but actually Outram wasn't strong enough to fix anything, so it was more to do with the political posture of not being seen as having pulled out of Oude altogether. Campbell then took all his relieving units and Inglis's people back to Cawnpore, where, in the meantime the Gwalior Contingent had jumped General Windham. Campbell relieved Windham, scattering the Gwalior in the process. Outram remained in the Alumbagh until the next time Campbell came up in March 58 to execute what is generally termed the 'Recapture of Lucknow'. I am now at the point in the proceedings, post March 58, where that orbat becomes extant, with the army operating as two divisions.

HM 84th had been with Havelock and Outram, with about a company's worth of regimental dribs and drabs coming up for Campbell's Second Relief as part of 'Barnston's Battalion' (a composite unit of several regimental detachments, under the command of Maj Roger Barnston, HM 90th, who had been commanding the three coys of his own regiment, including that of young Capt G J Wolseley, that were shipwrecked in transit to China - literally in 'Transit' - the name of their troopship!).

HM 64th had been with Havelock all along, bar three companies detained at Calcutta. The regimental main body, badly knocked about by 9 general actions and a cholera outbreak, was left behind at Cawnpore when the OFF crossed the Ganges for the 1st Relief of Lucknow. Two of the formerly missing companies having come up in the meantime. still at full strength, went under command of CO HM 84th and crossed the Ganges with the OFF. The 7 veteran companies at Cawnpore under Col Wilson (thence Gen Windham) were very badly cut up fighting the Gwalior. The two with the OFF were obviously besieged with Outram in Lucknow. The link that Frogsmile provides is to my own work on my Iron Duke Miniatures website, where the detachment of the 64th referred to is I think the regiment's tenth and last company, embraced within another composite battalion of detachments. There wasn't a whole lot of HM 64th left by the end of all this palaver, but they might have managed something in the dying stages of the Mutiny. I have a regimental history here if anybody is desperate to know and a good article by an old acquaintance, called Col Jim Tanner, who once commanded the Staffordshire Regiment (descended from the old 64th and 80th Regts) that might conceivably be of assistance, but since this is only a faint trail at best and you're not certain which regiment is at issue, I'll refrain from banging on any further, potentially without good justification.

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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Frogsmile » 03 Aug 2017 11:39

mike snook wrote:The handwritten orbat above post-dates Campbell's 2nd Relief of Lucknow (Nov 57), as Outram's 1st Division, as listed there, is made up of the units that had earlier executed the first relief (25 Sep 57), only to be unable to break out again with the original garrison and civilian contingent commanded by Col John Inglis. Thus 1st Division is made up the original units of the Allahabad Moveable Column, plus 5 x coys HM 5th Fusiliers and 7 x coys HM 90th LI, (brought up by Outram), which at that juncture transitioned to become known as the Oude/Oudh Field Force. Famously both AMC and OFF were commanded by Brig-Gen Havelock, Maj-Gen Outram having waived his military rank in order that his junior could achieve the goal for which he had been so nobly struggling since July. Outram resumed his rank on arrival in Lucknow. Once Campbell had extricated the enlarged garrison in November, he left Outram and all his units, (Havelock had died of dysentery even as the extrication was proceeding), to hold a defensive position at the Alambagh. You could argue it was technically a 'fixing' operation, but actually Outram wasn't strong enough to fix anything, so it was more to do with the political posture of not being seen as having pulled out of Oude altogether. Campbell then took all his relieving units and Inglis's people back to Cawnpore, where, in the meantime the Gwalior Contingent had jumped General Windham. Campbell relieved Windham, scattering the Gwalior in the process. Outram remained in the Alumbagh until the next time Campbell came up in March 58 to execute what is generally termed the 'Recapture of Lucknow'. I am now at the point in the proceedings, post March 58, where that orbat becomes extant, with the army operating as two divisions.

HM 84th had been with Havelock and Outram, with about a company's worth of regimental dribs and drabs coming up for Campbell's Second Relief as part of 'Barnston's Battalion' (a composite unit of several regimental detachments, under the command of Maj Roger Barnston, HM 90th, who had been commanding the three coys of his own regiment, including that of young Capt G J Wolseley, that were shipwrecked in transit to China - literally in 'Transit' - the name of their troopship!).

HM 64th had been with Havelock all along, bar three companies detained at Calcutta. The regimental main body, badly knocked about by 9 general actions and a cholera outbreak, was left behind at Cawnpore when the OFF crossed the Ganges for the 1st Relief of Lucknow. Two of the formerly missing companies having come up in the meantime. still at full strength, went under command of CO HM 84th and crossed the Ganges with the OFF. The 7 veteran companies at Cawnpore under Col Wilson (thence Gen Windham) were very badly cut up fighting the Gwalior. The two with the OFF were obviously besieged with Outram in Lucknow. The link that Frogsmile provides is to my own work on my Iron Duke Miniatures website, where the detachment of the 64th referred to is I think the regiment's tenth and last company, embraced within another composite battalion of detachments. There wasn't a whole lot of HM 64th left by the end of all this palaver, but they might have managed something in the dying stages of the Mutiny. I have a regimental history here if anybody is desperate to know and a good article by an old acquaintance, called Col Jim Tanner, who once commanded the Staffordshire Regiment (descended from the old 64th and 80th Regts) that might conceivably be of assistance, but since this is only a faint trail at best and you're not certain which regiment is at issue, I'll refrain from banging on any further, potentially without good justification.

As ever

M


Thank you for that detailed rundown, Mike, I had forgotten that there were three attempts at relief. Your explanation really conveys the desperate nature of the fighting and the make do and mend constitution of the forces under Campbell and the others. I had recently read David Saul's, 'Indian Mutiny', having been a bit taken in by the hype that it supposedly revealed new causes of the mutiny, but in the end I was rather disappointed, as after going into great detail about the shortcomings in the terms and conditions of service in the Bengal Army, and outlining the earlier actions of 1857, it then rather galloped over the fighting into 1858. As a result I have started re-reading Christopher Hibbert's book on the subject, which I am finding much more to my taste (perhaps it's an age thing).

I had been trying to narrow down the likely regiment of the narrator, Ramsdale, who Maureen mentioned, and reading your explanation of the changing ORBAT's it has occurred to me that there is probably no one better than you to examine the man's stated movements and venture an opinion as to his regiment (assuming it is likely one of those with a second digit of '4'). Can you help?

Ramsdale's letter home is shown here: http://www.leighanddistricthistory.com/ ... -1857-1858
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby mike snook » 03 Aug 2017 16:16

[In my considered opinion...] James Ramsdale was in No. 3 Coy/14th Bn. Royal Artillery, under the command of (Brevet) Maj. W.G Le Mesurier. He is describing operations in Rohilkhund in May 1858. In concert with a detachment of No 4 Coy/6th Bn Bengal Artillery under a Captain Cooksworthy, Le Mesurier's men are manning a siege train consisting of 8 x 24 pdrs, 12 x 8 in. mors and 8 x 5.5 in. mors. In his letter Ramsdale alludes to the Battle of Bareilly (5 May 1858), where Sir Colin was in command. Campbell then took the town of Bareilly on 7 May. Ramsdale then goes on to talk about marching to the relief of Colonel Hale and HM 82nd at Shahjanpore, where they had been attacked by the Maulavi of Fyzabad. The relief column was commanded by fat John Jones, by now a brig, but formerly the CO of HM 60th at the siege and storming of Delhi. Jones took 6th DG, Multani Horse, HM 60th, HM 79th Hldrs, a wing of HM 82nd, 22nd Punjaub Infantry and a couple of batteries of Bengal gunners. Evidently he also took some of Le Mesurier's heavy guns (quantity unclear, but not fewer than three obviously; that they were 24-pdrs would be a racing certainty). Arrived Shahjanpore 11 May, skirmished a bit and relieved Hale the same day. More skirmishing on 15 May, after which Jones had to send to Campbell for help. Not much happened after that. The succession of moves described by Ramsdale in the later stages of his letter will eventually culminate at Allahabad Fort. For No. 3 Coy./14th Bn. RA the Mutiny ended at Shahjanpore on 15 May.

To whom shall I send my bill?

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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Frogsmile » 03 Aug 2017 17:05

Brilliant stuff, Mike. I am kicking myself for not thinking of the diminutive, 'Royal Regiment', when relating to the Royal Artillery! As for payment, I'm sure that you do it for the love of it, like most who frequent this forum. ;)
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Re: How did new troops get to Roorkee in 1858?

Postby Maureene » 13 Aug 2017 05:31

Thanks to Mike for his detective work which led to his conclusion that James Ramsdale of the "14th Battalion Royal Infantry", mentioned in my post dated 27 July 2017, was actually in No. 3 Coy/14th Bn. Royal Artillery

I guess this would be a transcription error when the letter was transcribed.

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