East India Company Regiments

For all discussions relating to the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars of 1845-46 and 1848-49.

Re: East India Company Regiments

Postby mike snook » 28 Oct 2017 11:42

Assuming you do eventually nail him down to 45th Ben NI Jose, you might be interested to know that there is a primary account of the outbreak at Ferezopore in the memoirs of an officer called Griffiths of HM 61st:


It's right at the beginning. It is of course written from the perspective of the 61st, but it's worth a scoot at for background.


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Re: East India Company Regiments

Postby Frogsmile » 30 Oct 2017 13:43

This has been a very interesting thread and has brought to my mind something that I have been meaning to seek comment on for some time. Having just re-read Christopher Hibbert's The Great Mutiny: India 1857 (which I prefer greatly to Saul David's effort), I was struck by the number of BNI Sergeant Majors and Quarter Master Sergeants mentioned, many of whom suffered greatly along with their families. It struck me that almost all of these men probably came from the HEIC European Regiments, as the transfer across must have been fairly straight forward compared with transfer from a Queen's Regiment, which would have entailed a discharge from the Regular Army unless some special dispensation was made, or there was a convenient administrative shortcut created for battalions based in India (this latter seems extremely unlikely to me given the relationship between HEIC and Queen's units). Another striking aspect was the number of these men who seemed to have Irish names, although that chimes with the large numbers of sons of Erin that are known to have served with the European regiments of the HEIC in the decades following the potato famine (as well as the British Army in general).

The point of my enquiry is the relationship in the battalion HQs between the Sergeant Major, the Commanding Officer and the Subedar Major. Traditionally, in a British regiment the Sergeant Major had been (is still) the channel between the other ranks and the Colonel (commanding officer), but as in the BNI (and other native units) the Subedar Major fulfilled that vital role it makes me wonder what was the day-to-day focus of the Sergeant Major? I can only think that he must have been almost entirely devoting his time to drill, turnout (i.e. unit standards of dress - also a focus of the Adjutant) and perhaps tidiness of the barracks. Does anyone know of any autobiographies, or general anecdotes, or accounts that might throw some light into what seems to me to be a fairly dark corner?
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