Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

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Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby sjwalker51 » 04 Dec 2016 15:06

Gents, I'm sure this information is readily available, but I can't find it so readily, so hope you can help...

Which regiment(s) did the Sikhs listed as being amongst the defenders prior to the first relief come from? I'm thinking of those that, for example, accompanied men of the 32nd on their unsuccessful sortie against the snipers based in Johannes' House.

all advice gratefully received - it's only for a wargame scenario but I do like a bit of historical accuracy in the briefing (even if the officers featured in this particular game are all to be named after Dr Who UNIT characters from the 1970's!)

Simon
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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby mike snook » 04 Dec 2016 16:16

Sikh members of 13th, 48th and 71st BNI I believe. Their former regimental colleagues were on the other side of course. Or do you have a separate body of Sikhs itemised?

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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby sjwalker51 » 04 Dec 2016 18:02

That was my assumption as well, thanks Mike. I've read references to Sikhs amongst the original defenders but no specific unit mentioned (and, of course, there's Sikh Square as part of the defences) until the arrival of the first relief column, which had Braysers' amongst its numbers IIRC?
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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby mike snook » 05 Dec 2016 11:56

Simon,

Just dipping about in a few primaries this morning, I can see that in addition to the loyal residues of sepoys from the three BNIs mentioned above, (a mixture of Sikhs and Hindus), there were also about 80 Sikh sowars at Chinhat. As far as I can tell they came from the 2nd and 3rd Oudh Irregular Cavalry, (which had mutinied of course, along with the rest of the Oudh contingent - 3 x irregular cavalry regiments, 10 infantry regiments and two regiments of military police or thereabouts), because their officers in the battle were Capt Forbes and Lt Hardinge, who I can trace to those two regiments. They routed from the field, but fled back to the city, so I presume formed part of the garrison subsequently. Their none too distinguished behavior on that occasion was in stark contrast to the loyalist sepoys who were reported as rather nobly leaving their own wounded behind, in order to assist wounded Europeans from the field. Maj Bruere, who gets mentioned in the document you sent me this morning, was the commandant (CO) of 13th BNI, so I presume 'Bruere's Sikhs' to be that part of his regiment that remained loyal. There are also slightly unclear references to the Sikh sepoys being separated out from the Hindus, some little while before Chinhat, so as to prevent their being tainted, but it is unclear which regiments are at issue - I think possibly not only the BNIs, but also perhaps some of the Oudh regiments - after all if there are Sikhs in 2nd and 3rd OIC, I don't see why there should not also be at least some present in the ranks of the infantry regiments. 7th BLC are also knocking about a bit, on the 'wrong' side, but I have a reference to a purportedly loyal residue of about 80 being sent home, because their officers were convinced that it was only a matter of time. I do not think that this is the same 80 from Chinhat: a. Because the BLCs were largely Muslim. b. Because I have a definite reference to Sikh sowars during the siege. c. Because I think the affair pre-dates Chinhat.

If I stumble across anything more clearcut and compelling, (which I doubt - at least not without a huge and potentially nugatory cross-referring exercise, conducted across the entire contents of my library), I'll be sure to let you know.

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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby sjwalker51 » 05 Dec 2016 20:13

Hi Mike

Thanks for this. The original, unsuccessful, raid on Johannes' House took place on July 7th, so after Chinhat. A quick look through various primaries and others (Gubbins, Wilson, Inglis) speaks of 50 men of the 32nd with 20 Sikhs. Officers participating included Captains Mansfield and Lawrence, and Ensign Studdy of the 32nd, with Ensign Green of the 13th BNI, which led to the conclusion this was the unit from which the Sikhs came.

(The nominal role of defenders in the Gazette of Feb 17th 1858 indicates that most of the participants did not subsequently survive the siege)

Otherwise I'd have assumed that the Sikhs were more likely to have come from the remnants of the Oude Irregulars (especially given the close proximity of the operation to Sikh Square) and the likely composition of the BNI, but would dismounted irregular cavalry have been the first choice for such a raid?

My reference to "Bruere's Sikhs" is a bit of historical/artistic licence in the absence of anything more concrete and my reading of the sources has been no more than cursory - enough for the purpose and any deeper digging would only be for interests sake!

Thanks for your interest and assistance.
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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby Les Waring » 28 Apr 2017 13:15

Hi folks

It's a bit late to be commenting on this, though it is part of my special topic of interest, so here goes.

1. the Sikh sowars at Chinhat were indeed the remnants of the Oudh regiments which mutineed. These sowars, as stated, didn't cover themselves with glory as they bolted back to the Residency with tales of a general massacre. Apparently only one reamained with the volunteer cavalry (Europeans) who DID save the main infantry force from total destruction. The reamaining sowarsstayed in the garrison with their horses until very late in the Siege, in case a 'breakout' became necessary or possible.

2. The Sikh sepoys ('Bruere's Sikhs') belonged to the 13th Native Infantry - as stated they were divided from the Hindu troops of the regiment probably to avoid caste pollution. The Hindus held the Baillie Guard Gate under Captain 'Jock'Aitken and Lieut. William Cubbitt, while the Sikhs were stationed at the Judicial Garrison under Capt. 'Good Old Charlie' (as his wife Maria called him) Germon.

Sikhs were amongst the initially loyal troops who deserted throughout the Siege, lack of opium being apparently a contributing factor to this.

3. I don't understand why the sortie of 7 July is called unsuccessful. It achieved its purpose, which was to ascertain whether a mine was being dug from Johannes' house (there wasn't). it was not intended to destroy the house at that point, proof being that no engineer accompanied the party. Johannes Sr. to whom the house belonged was an influential Armenian merchant (his son was an OD) and Sir Henry Lawrence, before being killed, had been wary of damaging property of important civilians, thus alienating them. True the insurgents reoccupied the building soon after the sortie and it was finally destroyed in August, after lengthy preparations by J.J. McLeod Innes of the Bengal Engineers.

4. The sortie of 7 July was, in a way, a success, as it was the first time that the Defenders officially took the fight to the besiegers, thus raising confidence, though there had been a few 'free enterprise' sorties, such as that led by William Dowling and William Cooney (both of the 32nd) on 4th July.

5. As stated quite a few of the leaders of the 7th July sortie, Mansfield & Studdy (32nd) and Green (who probably comanded the 13th NI Sikh contingent), as well as Cooney died or were killed later in the Siege, though Sam Lawrence and many of the 32nd rankers who participated survived, including the two who Sam unsuccesfully recommended for the V.C. at the time his successful application was being considered. The sortie was, of course, the first of the two actions cited in Sam's V.C. award.

Best

Les W.
Last edited by Les Waring on 29 Apr 2017 14:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby mike snook » 28 Apr 2017 21:45

Thanks Les. Simon is a regular visitor here at VWF and will I'm sure see this. I'm likely to bump into him in a few weeks and will mention it to him just in case.

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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby sjwalker51 » 29 Apr 2017 08:31

Les, much appreciated - a great example of how informative and helpful the members of this forum are.

Mike, will you be at Partizan? You can continue my pronunciation class (I...sandal..wana..) in exchange for a pint, if so inclined. Maybe I'm ready to tackle Gingindlovu next!
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Re: Sikhs amongst original Lucknow defenders - regiment?

Postby mike snook » 29 Apr 2017 16:08

Hi Simon,

All being well yes; I've got a couple of bits of business to attend to up that way. Stick with Gin-Gin-I-love you!

As ever,

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